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mtiotie S^sflatiti <!Eliition 
KHODE ISLAKD 

BY 

IRVING BERDINE RICHMAN 



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Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/rhodeislandstudyOOrich_0 



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RHODE ISLAND 



A STUDY IlSr SBPAKATISM 



BY 



IRVING BERDINE RICHMAN 

Author of ^^ Ehode Island: Its Making 
and Its Meaning. ^^ 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

1905 



COPYRIGHT 1905 BY IRVING B. RICHMAN 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



Kl)n5e fglariK etitttott 

LIMITED TO ONE HUNDRED COPIES 

AND PRINTED FOR 

PRESTON AND ROUNDS COMPANY 

PROVIDENCE, R. I. 



PEEFACE 

Upon tlie formative period of Rhode Island his- 
tory, the author of the present study has dwelt 
at length in " Rhode Island : Its Making and its 
Meaning," published in 1902. The period in ques- 
tion was characterized by a separatism that was 
intense, but subsequent periods have by no means 
been wanting in this feature, and it is largely the 
object of the present book to point out the influ- 
ence of separatism in determining the course of 
events in Rhode Island during the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries. 

Within the current year there has been pub- 
lished by Dr. Edward Channing, of Harvard, vol- 
ume one of a history of the United States. This 
volume, at page 412, contains the statement, that 
all existing histories of Rhode Island are "full 
of prejudice against Massachusetts." The state- 
ment would seem to commit Dr. Channing to the 
dictum that no historical writer may speak with 
severity — discriminating severity even — concern- 



vi PREFACE 

ing the general attitude of early Massachusetts 
toward early Rhode Island, without incurring the 
charge of prejudice. Outside of the Bay State 
severity against early Massachusetts intolerance 
(vide Osgood and Andrews) is evidently not con- 
sidered by American historians an indication, per 
se, of prejudice, nor is it evidently so considered 
by such European scholars, English, Swiss, and 
German, as Doyle, Bryce, Borgeaud, and Jellinek. 
The possibility remains that in his dictum, that 
all histories of Rhode Island (because of severity 
toward early Massachusetts) are filled with preju- 
dice, Dr. Channing is right and others, American 
and European, are wrong; but, as affecting the 
weight of the dictum, the circumstance can hardly 
be overlooked that Dr. Channing, by birth, educa- 
tion, and persistent environment, is a Massachu- 
setts man. 

Animated with the hope that as one possessed 
of no relationship, ancestral or contemporary, to 
New England, his work may be found reasonably 
impartial, the author desires to make acknowledg- 
ment for valuable aid to his friends, Mr. Clarence 
S. Brigham, librarian of the Rhode Island His- 
torical Society; Mr. George Parker Winship, 
librarian of the John Carter Brown Library ; Mr. 



PREFACE vii 

William E. Foster, librarian of the Providence 
Public Library; Professor William MacDonald, 
of Brown University; Mr. William P. Sheffield, 
Jr., of Newport; Dr. Frank G. Bates, of Alfred 
University, New York ; and Mr. Reuben G. 
Thwaites, of the Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

I. B. E. 

Muscatine, Iowa., September 23, 1905. 



CONTENTS 



OHAFTEB PAGE 

Part I. AGRICULTURE AND SEPARATISM 

I. Narragansett Bay 3 

n. The Age of Roger Williams . . . . 13 

Part II. COMMERCE AND COOPERATION 

III. Paper Money 65 

rV. Rhode Island and the Sea .... 84 

V. The Golden Age of Newport (Commerce) . 107 
VI. The Golden Age of Newport — continued 

(Letters, Arts, Science) 129 

VII. Old Narragansett 146 

VIII. Growth of Providbnce : Stephen Hopkins and 

Moses Brown 159 

IX. Constitutional Development .... 180 

Part III. UNIFICATION AND MANUFACTURES 

X. Portents of Revolution 197 

XL Rhode Island the Theatre of War . . 216 

XII. The Federal Constitution ..... 241 

XIII. Decline of Commerce and Establishment of 

Manufactures 258 

XIV. The Dorr Rebellion 285 

XV. The Civil War and After .... 308 



PART I 

AGRICULTURE AND SEPARATISM 

1636-1689 



RHODE ISLAND 



CHAPTER I 

NARRAGANSETT BAY 
Geography — Discovery — Present-day Environment 

Before the age of Roger Williams Rhode Island 
was separatist. It was so in its geography. It 
consisted of a strip or section of territory — a con- 
tinental or mainland section embracing Narragan- 
sett Bay — and of a series of formations within 
the bay constituting a section of islands. 

Within present boundaries the greatest length 
of the Narragansett Bay commonwealth is forty- 
eight miles, and its greatest width thirty-seven. 
Its area, including the bay, is nearly thirteen hun- 
dred square miles. The bay itself comprises about 
two hundred square miles, and is broken into lesser 
bays, and into straits and channels, by its groups 
of islands. Of these islands Prudence, Conanicut, 
and the island of Aquidneck, or Rhode Island, are 
the largest. The entire coast line (bay and sea) 
extends four hundred miles, and adjacent to it in 
South Kingstown, Charlestown, and Westerly the 
lands are low and marshy. To the northward and 



4 RHODE ISLAND 

westward there is a gradual increase in elevation, 
the highest point — 805 feet — being attained at 
Durfee's Hill in Glocester. 

Narragansett Bay forms the outlet for three 
considerable Rhode Island streams, — the Black- 
stone (Seekonk), the Woonasquatucket, and the 
Pawtuxet, — and the Atlantic Ocean for a fourth 
stream, the Pawcatuck. These streams are in- 
terrupted by falls and rapids, and in the days of 
the first settlers were bordered by strips of luxu- 
riant grass land. Aside from the river meadows 
and coast marshes, the surface of aboriginal Rhode 
Island was stony or sandy and covered by a thick 
growth of forest. 

Passage from the mainland to the islands, and 
from the islands to the mainland, was in the early 
days often difficult and sometimes dangerous, a 
fact to which official records and private diaries 
bear concurrent testimony. That Providence and 
Newport, therefore, should develop on divergent 
lines is not surprising ; although in calm weather 
the physical bond between them must have been 
of a closer nature than would have been supplied 
by as many miles of Indian forest trail. 

In a letter to Francis I of France, dated July 
8, 1524, Jean Verrazano describes the shores 
and islands of Narragansett Bay, a spot upon 
which he had come, in the spring of the year 
named, in searching for a channel through the 
American continent to the regions of Cathay. 



NARRAGANSETT BAY 5 

" Weighing anchor," he says, " we sailed eighty 
leagues toward the East, as the coast stretched in. 
that direction, and always in sight of it ; at length 
we discovered an island of a triangular form, 
about ten leagues from the mainland, in size about 
equal to the island of Rhodes, having many hills 
covered with trees, and well peopled, judging from 
the great number of fires which we saw all around 
its shores ; we gave it the name of Your Majesty's 
illustrious mother [Luisa] . 

"We did not land there as the weather was 
unfavorable, but proceeded to another place, fifteen 
leagues distant from the island, where we found a 
very excellent harbor. . . . 

" This region is situated in the parallel of Rome, 
being 41 degrees 40 minutes of north latitude, but 
much colder from accidental circumstances and 
not by nature, as I shall hereafter explain to Your 
Majesty, and confine myself at present to the 
description of its local situation. It looks toward 
the south, on which side the harbor is haK a 
league broad; afterwards upon entering it, the 
extent between the coast and north is twelve 
leagues, and then enlarging itself it becomes a 
very large bay, twenty leagues in circumference, 
in which are five small islands, of great fertility 
and beauty, covered with large and lofty trees. 
Among these islands any fleet, however large, 
might ride safely, without fear of tempest or 
other dangers. Turning towards the south, at the 



6 RHODE ISLAND 

entrance of the harbor, on both sides, there are 
very pleasant hills, and many streams of clear 
water, which flow down to the sea. In the midst 
of the entrance, there is a rock of free stone [Goat 
Island], formed by nature, and suitable for the 
construction of any kind of machine or bulwark 
for the defense of the harbor." 

But Yerrazano possibly was not the first Euro- 
pean to visit the bay in question. As early as the 
tenth century, according to Norse tradition, Leif , 
son of Eric, sailed from Greenland to the west 
and south and wintered upon the New England 
coast at a point which he called Vinland, on a bay 
identified by the Danish scholar Rafn as that of 
Mount Hope. In the opinion of the enthusiastic 
Rafn, the Old Stone Mill at Newport, the mill 
which Governor Benedict Arnold had built about 
1675, and of which he makes repeated mention in 
his last will and testament, was of Norse construc- 
tion. 

After Verrazano, map-makers were wont to des- 
ignate Narragansett Bay as the Bay of St. Juan 
Baptist, although Verrazano himself had chris- 
tened it the Bay of Refuge. It remained the 
Bay of St. Juan until 1614, when a Dutchman, 
Adriaen Block, emulating the brave Henry Hud- 
son, who fourteen years before had sailed up the 
lordly North River, appeared oE Point Judith in 
a little ship of sixteen tons. Block touched at the 
three-cornered island which Verrazano had named 



NARRAGANSETT BAY 7 

Luisa, and gave to it his own name, Block — 
Block Eylandt. He then carefully explored the 
Bay of St. Juan, calling it Nassau. The west 
passage he called Sloop Bay, and the east passage 
Anchor Bay. A small island, believed from his 
account of its location to have been Hope (it lay 
to the west of Aquidneck), he described as "een 
rodtlich Eylandken." 

For sketches of the Indians of the Narragansett 
region we are indebted to both Verrazano and 
Block. At the time of Block's visit the Wampa- 
noags, or Pokanokets, would seem to have been in 
occupation of the principal islands of the bay, and 
the Mohegans and Nyantics of the mainland to 
the west. Later on the Narragansetts, who abode 
between the Mohegans and Wampanoags, extended 
their dominion to the eastward. By 1636, the 
date of the coming of Roger Williams, the Nar- 
ragansetts had established a suzerainty over the 
"Wampanoags, but on the west they were held in 
check by the warlike Mohegans and Pequods, 
the latter an invading tribe from the north. Of 
all the tribes of southern New England, the Nar- 
ragansetts were the most numerous — eight or ten 
thousand souls ; and their chief sachems, the aged 
Canonicus and youthful Miantonomi, were men 
of exceptional astuteness. Of unusual qualities 
also were the chief sachems, respectively, of the 
Wampanoags, Mohegans, and Pequods, — Massa- 
soit, Uncas, and Sassacus. 



8 RHODE ISLAND 

Occupation of Khode Island on the part of the 
English was first by an agricultural class, and next 
by a class that was commercial. In recent years it 
has been by an industrial class. The agricultural- 
ists, who never formed a very numerous group, dis- 
persed themselves over Aquidneck and through the 
valleys of the Seekonk, the Woonasquatucket, the 
Pawtuxet, and the Pawcatuck, and became (in the 
more remote sections) ignorant, superstitious, and 
prejudiced. With the decline of agriculture, the best 
representatives of the group entered commerce, or, 
after the Kevolutionary War, migrated northwest- 
ward into Vermont and New York ; and those left 
behind — the less energetic — tended yet more to 
degenerate into a class of poor whites. 

Availing themselves (as they freely did) of the 
fresh water meadows and salt marshes for their 
cattle and horses, and of the woods and barrens 
for their swine and sheep, the Ehode Island agri- 
culturists made no great impression on the Narra- 
gansett wilderness outside of Aquidneck ; and with 
the development of commerce the impression made 
was still less, for commerce tended to draw popu- 
lation (the best of it) to the commercial centres — 
Newport and Providence. With the rise of manu- 
factures the river valleys became scenes of greater 
activity than ever before ; but in the interior, away 
from the valleys, there reigned a solitude that was 
profound. Agriculture now became markedly de- 
pressed, and the depression has not as yet been 



NARRAGANSETT BAY 9 

dispelled. Mr. Josiah B. Bowditch, after a review 
of the census figures for 1900, concludes that the 
farming population of Rhode Island to-day is no 
greater than it was in 1790. Some towns, as, for 
example. West Greenwich, have declined from as 
early a date as 1748. 

To take one's station on a Rhode Island hill and 
permit one's glance to traverse the Narragansett 
Bay region, is to behold a commonwealth occupied 
in its main valleys (those of the Blackstone and 
Pawtuxet) and along its coast line by an active 
population of nearly four hundred thousand souls 
and its back country by an inactive population 
of not much to exceed thirty thousand souls. This 
back country, moreover, one would perceive to be 
a country of hills and forest. " The huge rollers," 
observes Mr. Clarence Deming, " stretch to the 
horizon in endless rise and slope . . . and over all 
is laid the thick mantle of the woods, unbroken save 
by one or two brown houses on a distant hill, or by 
a clearing so infrequent and small that it accents 
the ocean of forest. . . . Swift and clear streams 
pour through the valleys, fed by springs and sus- 
tained in drought by the swamps ; the underbrush 
is dense, and through vast areas all but impenetra- 
ble^ with such cover for quail, partridge, and wood- 
cock as seems to challenge the most destroying 
energy of the pot-hunter; the wildest of wild 
flowers, such as the cypripedium, grow by the very 
roadside in their season ; lakes and ponds, reputed 



10 RHODE ISLAND 

to have good black bass fishing, show hardly a 
dwelling on their shores or a boat on their waters. 
. . . Old taverns, lodging no guest and with no 
welcoming host, front the highways, the dim ghosts 
of old revelry seeming to peer through shattered 
pane and shutter. Half the farmhouses are de- 
serted and in every degree of infirmity. The 
houses where families yet abide are in the decrepit 
stage of unpainted clapboard, sagging rafter, and 
wry fence. . . . But saddest of all are the decay- 
ing monuments of what was once a region of lively 
and expansive industry — a whole mill village 
deserted. ... In wildest Rhode Island the aban- 
doned mill jostles closely the abandoned farm, and 
both have gone down together before the industrial 
wave which has swept the smaller factories to the 
railroad and shore and hived the workers in the 
greater shops under higher productive organiza- 
tion." 

Of course amid a scene of desolation such as 
this there are to be encountered types of character 
all the quainter from their surroundings. Im- 
pressed with the fact. Miss Esther B. Carpenter, 
in 1887, published a delightful series of character 
sketches — "South County Neighbors." The men 
and women she depicts are survivals from the 
pristine Narragansett stock with its " Old Jobs " 
and " Young Jobs " and its " Uncle Simons ; " its 
" Alzadys," " Celindys," and " Lovisy Anns ; " its 
"Oseys" [Osiannas], "Pashes" [Patiences], and 



NARRAGANSETT BAY 11 

" Phylutys." " Now, neighbor," Uncle Simon was 
wont to remark, " what d' ye think makes Squire 
Potter and Squire Hazard always talk to me 
wheresumever they see me ? " " Why, I don't 
know. Uncle Simon." "Well, neighbor, I'll tell 
ye. 'T is to draar knalidge — yes, to draar knal- 
idge." It was (we are assured by Miss Carpenter) 
a favorite hypothesis of Simon's that if he could 
only have talked with King George the Revolution 
need never have occurred. 

But, to pursue a query propounded by Mr. 
Deming, " What does the future hold for Rhode 
Island's west, where nature is so fast overgrowing 
man, where meadows and sown field year by year 
shrink, where the woodlands expand, and the farm 
problem of Yankeeland repeats itself in its super- 
lative degree ? Will the rich sporting patroons, 
who have begun to buy up the forests by the square 
mile at a dollar or two an acre, realize their hopes 
of a paradise of rod and gun ? Will the strange 
expanse of the very penumbra of busy cities be 
given over at last to the well-watched preserves 
of the sportsmen's clubs and syndicates ? Will it 
in the maturing of the science of forestry, now in 
bud, become the source of lucrative timber sup- 
ply ? Or as populations outside wax and a refluent 
stream of wealth pours on the picturesque sites of 
New England, will remote posterity see the semi- 
wilderness cut by electric roads, the truck farmer 
or tenant driving back the forest, the lands grown 



12 RHODE ISLAND 

fat and costly, and every scenic hilltop crowned 
by the homes of the rich ? To such surmise," says 
Mr. Deming, " whether of economist, nature lover, 
or sportsman, the deepening solitudes of wildest 
Rhode Island give no reply." 

Possibly not, but Professor N. S. Shaler of Har- 
vard confidently predicts a time when, by reason 
of the exhaustion of more available lands, the 
lands of New England, especially those of a marshy 
character, will be widely reclaimed. Be that as it 
may, " Rhode Island's west " — its sparsely peo- 
pled, its intensely individualistic and separatist, 
west — is even now exerting a preponderant in- 
fluence in Rhode Island affairs. The nature and 
tendency of that influence are reserved for consid- 
eration in our last chapter. 



CHAPTER II 
THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 

1. Founding of Providence and Warwick 

The age of Roger Williams in Ehode Island cen- 
tres about six historic names and four geographical 
points. The names are Roger Williams and Wil- 
liam Harris ; William Coddington and John Clarke ; 
Samuel Gorton and Anne Hutchinson. The points 
are Providence and Warwick on the Rhode Island 
mainland, and Newport and Portsmouth on the 
island of Aquidneck. 

Roger Williams was born in London about 1603. 
His parents were James and Alice (Pemberton) 
Williams, and the occupation of his father was 
that of merchant tailor. Of his boyhood years we 
know nothing. Our first glimpse of him is ob- 
tained in 1620, when he was a lad of seventeen. 
Williams (probably with a view to a livelihood) 
had learned shorthand, and for the purpose of 
practicing his art had obtained permission to at- 
tend sessions of the Court of Star Chamber. Here, 
by his alertness of mind and openness of heart, 
he won the regard of Sir Edward Coke — the 
grim Sir Edward who, as chief justice of the Court 
of King's Bench, had in 1616 withstood to his 



14 RHODE ISLAND 

face on a question of prerogative the pedantic James 
the First. Of Williams Coke straightway became 
the patron, and as such he in 1621 secured for him 
admission to the Charterhouse School, an institu- 
tion then newly founded and of which the jurist 
himself was one of the overseers. In 1652 (long 
after the death of Coke) Roger Williams sought 
to enter into correspondence with a surviving 
daughter, Mrs. Anne Sadleir of Standon, Puck- 
ridge, but the dame — grim by disposition like her 
illustrious parent and incensed at Williams for his 
iconoclastic religious views — bound his letters into 
a package and indorsed upon it : " This Roger Wil- 
liams when he was a youth would in a shorthand 
take sermons and speeches in the Star Chamber 
and present them to my dear father. . . . Full little 
did he think that he would have proved such a rebel 
to God, the King and his country. I leave his let- 
ters that, if ever he has the face to return into his 
native country, Tyburn may give him welcome." 

From the Charterhouse Williams went to Pem- 
broke College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 
1626. His inclination at first was for the law, but 
the times were times of theology, and in 1629 he 
was filling the position of chaplain to Sir William 
Masham of Otes, in Essex. While thus employed 
he fell deeply in love with a niece of Lady 
Barrington, the Lady Barrington being an aunt 
to Oliver Cromwell. Williams's love affair was not 
prosperous. He had, it is true, won the heart of 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 15 

the maiden to whom he aspired; but in the eyes 
of Lady Barrington he was a match altogether un- 
suitable for one of her family, and his passion was 
frowned upon. In complete despair he wrote to the 
obdurate lady on May 2, 1629 : " We [his sweet- 
heart and himself] hope to live together in the 
heavens though ye Lord have denied that union 
on earth." But this was not all that he did. Cam- 
bridge, where he had attended college, was in 
Cambridgeshire, one of those eastern counties of 
England into which there had long been migrating 
from Holland Anabaptists and Mennonites imbued 
with the idea of severance of Church from State. 
With this idea Williams himself had become im- 
pressed ; so much so, indeed, that he had thought 
it not unimportant to acquire a knowledge of the 
Dutch tongue. In his present situation, therefore, 
— crossed in love and a rebel against episcopacy, — 
he began to bend his gaze across the sea to a new 
land : that land whither already had departed the 
Separatist congregation of Nottinghamshire Pil- 
grims, and whither the Winthrop company of 
Puritans from Lincolnshire were soon to set out : 
a land, moreover, tenanted by a race wild, fantastic, 
and in need of Christianization — the land of the 
Massachusetts Bay. 

On February 5, 1631, Roger Williams disem- 
barked at Boston from the ship Lyon ; and as 
though to emphasize the entirety of his renunci- 
ation of bygone days and dreams, he disembarked 



16 RHODE ISLAND 

accompanied by a wife, Mary Quee Barnard), and 
without having visited Stoke House to say farewell 
to Sir Edward, his patron, whom indeed at this 
time it would scarcely have been prudent for him 
to face. In New England — first at Salem, then 
at Plymouth, then at Salem again — Williams 
found himself constantly and from the first in 
opposition to prevailing ideas. Where he had 
thought to find, if not his own conceptions, at 
least room for the assertion of those conceptions, 
he found a hierarchy of ministers and elders and 
a stiff ecclesiastical discipline ; a hierarchy and 
discipline to which the distinctively secular agency, 
government, was in practice subordinated. Yet 
the conceptions held by Williams were not such — 
all of them — that any government of the day 
could wholly have passed them by. They involved 
opposition to the charter of the colony because it 
recognized the king rather than the Indians as the 
source of title to lands ; a delicate point at the 
moment, for the king was then seeking a pretext 
for recalling the charter. They involved opposition 
to the autonomy of the colony under the charter, 
for they were antagonistic to judicial oaths by 
which that autonomy was sought to be confirmed. 
Some things, however, they involved that the 
government (had it been secular) could well have 
tolerated: for instance, that the civil magistrate 
ought not to be empowered to punish sins as such, 
offenses purely against God — the acts forbidden 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 17 

in the first table of the Decalogue ; that, in other 
words, magisterial power should extend only to the 
punishment of misdemeanors and crimes, offenses 
against man — the acts forbidden in the second 
table of the Decalogue. Upon this principle there 
was to be founded the commonwealth of Rhode 
Island. 

The final result of the clash between Roger 
Williams and Massachusetts was that on October 
9, 1635, Williams was ordered to depart within 
six weeks out of the jurisdiction of the Bay, as 
one having "broached & dyvulged dyvers newe 
& dangerous opinions, against the aucthoritie of 
magistrates," and having " writ Ires of defamacon 
both of the magistrates & churches." Afterwards 
the sentence of expulsion was so far modified that 
Williams was permitted to remain in Salem until 
spring. But inasmuch as by private discourses 
and exercises he continued "to draw others unto 
his opinions," it was decided in January, 1636, to 
send him to England. The plan was revealed to 
the culprit in season for him to thwart it by evad- 
ing Captain John Underhill, who had been charged 
with its execution, and soon, amid cold and deep 
snow, he, with his servant Thomas Angell, was on 
his way to the lodge of his friend Massasoit, the 
sachem of the Wampanoags. 

In the spring of 1636 Williams broke ground 
for a habitation at Seekonk (East Providence), on 
the east bank of the Seekonk River. Here he was 



18 RHODE ISLAND 

joined by three companions, among them William 
Harris. The party would have remained where 
they were, but were warned away as trespassers by 
Plymouth, and in the summer removed to Moos- 
hassuc and began to lay the foundations of Provi- 
dence. 

The arrival at Seekonk of William Harris was 
an occurrence most significant for the Providence 
settlement. Williams and Harris had come to 
Massachusetts in the same ship, but by tempera- 
ment and training were antipathetic to a degree. 
Williams was an idealist; Harris was a realist. 
The former was generous, full of compassion, and 
not altogether practical. The latter was keen, 
hard, and regardful of personal advantage. The 
Providence which together they succeeded in cre- 
ating partook of the characteristics of both ; and 
throughout the lives of both, lives lasting almost 
to the end of the seventeenth century, was racked 
by the dissensions of themselves and of their re- 
spective adherents. 

Among the motives which had inspired the com- 
ing of Roger Williams to America was a desire to 
convert the Indians, " to do the natives good." At 
Plymouth the newly arrived clergyman had early 
made friends with Massasoit ; and as a result of 
excursions into the Narragansett country, during 
which he had carefully studied the Algonquin 
tongue, he had entered into relations with Canoni- 
cus and Miantonomi. When, therefore, he and his 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 19 

companions — a party of five — found themselves 
at Mooshassuc, Williams was master of tlie situa- 
tion. The Indians knew him and respected him, 
and in the fullness of their knowledge and respect 
executed to him on March 24, 1638, a conveyance 
of a township of land on the Mooshassuc and Paw- 
tuxet rivers. It was the intention of the grantee 
to devote the gift to charitable uses. He meant to 
make of it in part a mission station, and in part a 
basis for a communal society composed of persons 
" distressed for conscience." To the latter design 
he probably was led by the circumstance that per- 
sons distressed for conscience — persons harassed 
at Plymouth or at the Bay — were already congre- 
gating about him. 

But just here William Harris began to assert 
himself. He was willing that idealism, in the form 
of affection, philanthropy, and religion, should win 
from the Indians a tract of land ; but he was not 
willing that the land so won should remain "a 
common stock " for the benefit of all " distressed " 
comers. Individual ownership was what he sought, 
and by October 8, 1638, he had so far " wearied " 
Williams by importunities that the latter executed 
to twelve men — Stukeley Westcott, William Ar- 
nold, Thomas James, Robert Cole, John Greene, 
John Throckmorton, William Harris, William Car- 
penter, Thomas Olney, Francis Weston, Richard 
Waterman, and Ezekiel Holliman — a deed con- 
stituting the twelve (along with the grantor) a 



20 RHODE ISLAND 

"fellowship" in tlie Indian grant. The deed did 
not create a partnership ; it created a corporation. 
But to convert the corporate holding largely into 
holdings in severalty was the work of but a little 
time. In fact, during the same autumn so much of 
the Indian grant as lay upon the Pawtuxet Kiver 
(a portion called the " Pawtuxet Purchase ") was, 
by agreement between the proprietaries, parti- 
tioned into several tracts. 

The government which under Williams was first 
instituted at Providence was by " masters of fami- 
lies." The masters met once a fortnight and dis- 
patched business " by mutual consent." By August 
or September, 1636, there had been admitted into 
the community a body of " young men, single per- 
sons." The government now was rendered more 
definite by a stipulation, concluded between the 
early comers and "young men," that the latter 
were to be subject " in active and passive obe- 
dience " to the orders of the major part of the 
" present inhabitants, masters of families, incorpo- 
rated into a town, and such others as they should 
admit, only in civil things." In 1640 a board of 
five disposers, or selectmen, was established, to 
" be betrusted " with general matters, and a sys- 
tem of arbitration was set up. In the above men- 
tioned cautious and tentative contrivances the in- 
dividualism implied in the doctrine of Soul Liberty 
or Freedom of Conscience was sought as fully as 
possible to be carried into the domain of politics. 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 21 

There were no magistrates ; there was no consta- 
ble. As Williams had written to Governor John 
Winthrop of Massachusetts in 1636, " the face of 
magistracy did not suit with [the] condition [of 
the settlement]." 

In March or April, 1641, Samuel Gorton ap- 
peared in Providence. He was a man of some pre- 
tensions to family, and, like the father of Koger 
Williams, a London clothier. He also was a theo- 
logian — one of those extreme products of the 
Reformation in whom the age abounded ; men and 
women actuated toward the large mysteries of life, 
redemption, and immortality by a spirit of daring 
challenge, and just enough schooled to obscure 
their lucubrations by garbing them in Hebrew 
imagery. As an extremist, Gorton believed in 
Freedom of Conscience. Hence in politics he was 
an individualist ; but to his political individualism 
there was imparted stability by the circumstance 
that he was a profound admirer of the English 
common law. Wherever that law was enthroned 
and observed, there for him was civil liberty ; and 
wherever it was not enthroned, or was not observed, 
there for him was civil tyrannjr. 

Up to the time of his advent upon the Mooshas- 
suc, the life of Gorton in New England had been 
a succession of small tempests. At Plymouth, 
where, in 1637, he had removed from rigid Boston, 
he had had an altercation with the magistrates over 
their treatment of his serving maid for " smiling 



22 RHODE ISLAND 

in church ; " with the issue that in December, 
1638, he had been banished for " contempt." 
From Plymouth he (Roger Williams like) had 
made his way, through " snow to the knee," to 
Portsmouth, on the island of Aquidneck. Here, 
within a brief time, he had become involved in 
behalf of another serving maid — one charged with 
assault — and in due course (for his own defiance 
of authority) had been banished to the mainland. 
But Gorton's career, though thus a series of conten- 
tions, was not altogether a madness. At Plymouth 
the proceedings in restraint of the levity of his 
servant were to him ecclesiastically tyrannous as 
against conscience, and civilly tyrannous in that 
(as conducted) prosecutor and judge, contrary to 
English law, were one. At Portsmouth none of 
the proceedings were to him justifiable, because on 
Aquidneck the government was neither of royal 
nor popular origin, but " set up of itself." 

The reception accorded to Gorton by Roger 
Williams was far from cordial. He demanded 
that the fugitive, as a condition precedent to ad- 
mission to the town fellowship, exculpate himself 
from the charges brought against him at Ports- 
mouth ; and in this demand he was sustained vig- 
orously by William Arnold. Gorton, on his part, 
found the situation at Providence no more worthy 
of respect than on the island. A few men, without 
authority from the king of England, or from any 
source other than themselves, were (with their f am- 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 23 

ilies) occupying houses distributed along a nar- 
row highway skirting the Mooshassuc and called 
" the towne street." Besides a house -lot, these men 
owned each a six-acre pasture or arable field; and 
as a body (as a fellowship or corporation) they 
owned all the rest of Providence. And not only 
so, but thirteen of them were owners, each, of a 
great estate on the Pawtuxet. Surely this was all 
wrong, all an illegal monopoly, and should be over- 
thrown. 

Gorton had been accompanied from Portsmouth 
by various disciples, and he made further converts 
at Providence. In his train now were Randall 
Holden and John Greene ; and the entire party 
— after bringing the settlement so near to revolu- 
tion that Koger Williams, who at first " in Christ's 
name had withstood [the intruder]," at length 
gave up the contest and seriously bethought him- 
self of flight to the island of Patience — settled 
down at Pawtuxet. At Pawtuxet, however, there 
were the Arnolds — William and his son Benedict ; 
and the Arnolds were of no mean order of ability. 
Their best energies were at once directed to the 
task of ridding the region of the burden of Gorton. 

Already in 1641 Massachusetts had let fall the 
pregnant hint that it might operate for quiet and 
good order on the Mooshassuc and Pawtuxet if 
the more substantial inhabitants were to subject 
themselves to the jurisdiction of the Bay. So in 
the autumn of 1642, the Arnolds and their family 



24 RHODE ISLAND 

connections made subjection in the name of Paw- 
tuxet, and notice of the fact was promptly con- 
veyed to Gorton by Governor Winthrop. The 
Gortonists had been neatly circumvented, and in 
January, 1643, they, after dispatching to Boston 
a letter stigmatizing the Puritans as a merciless 
Jewish brotherhood, removed to Shawomet. Shaw- 
omet was a district embracing what to-day are 
the towns of Warwick and Coventry. It was ob- 
tained by the Gortonists from Miantonomi and 
two local sachems, Pumham and Sacononoco. 
Gorton possessed something of Williams's faculty 
for ingratiating himself with the Indians, and his 
purchase of Shawomet marked the beginning of a 
friendship between himself and Miantonomi that 
was to be provocative of much. 

Having forced Gorton from Pawtuxet, the Ar- 
nolds next resolved to force him from Shawomet. 
Massachusetts had served their purpose once, it 
should be baited to do so again. In May, 1643, 
Pumham and Sacononoco were taken by Benedict 
Arnold to Boston, and, offering to submit them- 
selves and Shawomet to the jurisdiction of the 
Bay, were graciously received. Pumham acknow- 
ledged that he had signed a deed for Shawomet to 
the Gortonists, but professed to have been driven 
to the act through the sinister influence of Sam- 
uel Gorton over Miantonomi, his overlord. Ac- 
cordingly both Gorton and Miantonomi were 
summoned to appear and show cause why the Gor- 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 25 

tonists should not be evicted from their holdings 
as trespassers. Furthermore, commissioners were 
sent to Shawomet and Pawtuxet to inquire into 
conditions on the spot, and to take in writing the 
answers of the local sachems to a series of interro- 
gatories on the ten commandments. If Massachu- 
setts became sponsor for Pumham and Sacononoco, 
it must be on a satisfactory profession of their 
faith. The profession proved to be satisfactory, 
and on June 22 a formal deed of submission from 
the Indians was accepted. 

Miantonomi obeyed the summons to Boston, but 
Samuel Gorton did not. The latter in September 
(pursuing a favorite method) reduced his views to 
writing. These views were that the head of the 
State in Massachusetts was an " Idol General — a 
Satan transforming himself into an angel of light;" 
and that his subjects " lived by blood " through 
persecutions. " If," continued the epistle, " your 
sword be drawn, ours is girt upon our thigh." 

In this plain challenge to arms, Gorton perhaps 
was indiscreet. At all events Massachusetts, the 
next month, put in the field a company of soldiers 
and advanced on Shawomet. The Gortonists took 
refuge in a log house where they fortified them- 
selves, and to the fortress the invaders laid siege. 
A lively fire was directed upon the structure with- 
out harm to the inmates, but, after a few days, the 
latter — upon (as they always insisted) a promise 
of " safe conduct " — consented to accompany the 



26 RHODE ISLAND 

besiegers to Boston; in a word, capitulated. At 
Boston the Gortonists were put on trial, not as 
would be supposed for trespass, or for anything 
connected with title to the Shawomet lands, but 
for heresy. If they could be convicted of that, all 
else would naturally follow. They were convicted, 
and death well-nigh became their portion. In lieu 
of death they were thrust in chains and set at 
hard labor. At length, in the spring of 1644, their 
presence becoming an embarrassment, they were 
liberated ; but with the understanding that they 
were to betake themselves forever from the soil of 
Massachusetts, Providence, and Shawomet. 

When, in January, 1643, Miantonomi affixed 
his hand to the deed of Shawomet to Gorton, he 
little foresaw that virtually he was affixing his 
hand to a warrant for his own undoing ; but so it 
proved. On May 19, 1643, the New England Con- 
federation was formed. It embraced Massachusetts, 
Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven. Of these 
colonies Connecticut was on the border and had 
suffered severely from the Indians. It responded 
in alarm to every rumor of an Indian uprising and 
kept urging upon Massachusetts action concern- 
ing the Narragansetts, against whom the jealousy 
of its own Indian allies — the Mohegans — con- 
stantly bred charges of treachery. 

Massachusetts, in 1640 and again in 1642, had 
investigated like charges, and, finding them with- 
out foundation, had become convinced of the good- 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 27 

will of the subjects of Canonicus and Miantonomi ; 
but after the sale of Shawomet to Gorton its atti- 
tude changed. The presumption now in the mind 
of the Bay — now that Miantonomi had cemented 
a friendship with Gorton, with Gorton the heretic, 
Gorton " the beast," Gorton " the blasphemer " — 
was converted from one of innocence to one of 
guilt. Accordingly, when in July, 1643, Mianto- 
nomi, as the result of an attack upon the Mohe- 
gans, was made captive by them and held pending 
a decision as to his fate by the United Colonies, 
Massachusetts, acting the part of a Pontius Pilate, 
surrendered the unfortunate sachem — its own oft- 
tried friend — unto the vengeance of Connecticut 
and its allies. Miantonomi was condemned to death, 
and on a day in September, at a spot near the pre- 
sent Connecticut town of Norwich, was slain by 
Uncas the Mohegan, with a war-hatchet. 

2. The Pequod War ; Portsmouth and Newport. 

On the part of the Pequods — the most warlike 
of the New England Indian tribes — a hostile at- 
titude toward the English had early begun to be 
manifested. By the summer of 1636 this attitude 
had become so marked that Massachusetts, fearing 
the consequences, set to work to secure the friend- 
ship of the Narragansetts. With the latter (through 
the earnest and hazardous labors of Roger Wil- 
liams) an alliance was formed. The Pequods thus 
placed in isolation were, on the morning of May 26, 



28 RHODE ISLAND 

1637, surprised in their stronghold on the Mystic 
River by the combined forces of Massachusetts and 
Connecticut, and almost to a man delivered to the 
sword. 

The destruction of the Pequods removed from 
the Narragansett region all immediate peril from 
the Indians ; and winning in the aspect of its woods 
and waters as by nature the region was, it held 
forth in its unsettled parts a seductive and insist- 
ent invitation to the pioneer. Those to accept the 
invitation were a band of refugees from Boston — 
the Antinomians. Not long after the banishment 
of Williams there had arisen at Boston a spirit of 
strong reaction against the formalism, the rigid 
ecclesiasticism, of Massachusetts. Here and there 
protests began to be heard regarding the Puritan 
doctrine of salvation by works as inculcated on 
Sabbaths and Lecture Days by the pastor of the 
Boston Church, the Rev. John Wilson. Anne 
Hutchinson and her brother-in-law, John Wheel- 
wright (both from near Boston in Lincolnshire) 
were the most pronounced of the innovators ; but 
John Cotton, the associate of Wilson, was himself 
an innovator ; and even Sir Henry Yane, who in 
1636 had been chosen governor, was an anti-legalist. 

With a view to settling doctrine and restoring 
discipline, there was held at Cambridge in Septem- 
ber, 1637, a synod of the Massachusetts churches. 
The movement was so far effective that it bridled 
Cotton ; but neither Mistress Hutchinson nor John 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 29 

Wheelwright was cowed by it, and in November 
both were brought to trial as fomenters of sedition 
— disturbers of the civil peace. Wheelwright was 
found guilty and at once banished. Mistress Hutch- 
inson, too, was found guilty, but banishment was 
deferred until she should have been tried by the 
Boston Churcb for heresy. 

As a result of the proceedings above described, 
and of an order by the Massachusetts government 
for disarming such persons as sympathized with the 
victims, a considerable party of Boston people, 
headed by William Coddington and John Clarke, 
set forth in March, 1638, to seek to the southward 
a more congenial place of abiding. The party had 
Delaware in view, but owing to detention at Cape 
Cod were enabled to hold (through their leaders) 
a conference with Boger Williams at Providence. 
At Williams's suggestion, and by bis aid, there 
was obtained on March 24 a deed from Canonicus 
and Miantonomi " to William Coddington and his 
friends united under him " for Aquidneck (the is- 
land of Bhode Island) in Narragansett Bay ; and 
hither the Antinomian company straightway re- 
paired to lay the foundations of Portsmouth. 

William Coddington was born in Boston, Eng- 
land, in 1601, and in his native town was a man of 
substance and position. When the corporation of 
Massachusetts Bay was formed, he was made one 
of the assistants or council, and later became trea- 
surer. On the trial of Anne Hutchinson for sedi- 



30 RHODE ISLAND 

tion, he boldly withstood Winthrop, John Endicott, 
and the clergy. John Clarke was born on October 
8, 1609, in Bedfordshire. He was by calling a phy- 
sician, and his general education was unusual for 
the time. On arriving at Boston in 1637, he, like 
Williams before him, was astounded at the bigotry 
which he found enthroned, and immediately began 
casting about him for a more liberal retreat. Now 
that a retreat had been found, the next step was to 
erect a government ; and it seems to have been a 
step somewhat summarily taken. Indeed, at first, 
the Antinomians did little else than re-erect the 
Jewish system whence they so lately had fled. Al- 
ready at Providence they had chosen Codding- 
ton chief magistrate under the title of Judge, 
and upon their occupation of the island no change 
was made until January, 1639, when three elders 
(John Coggeshall, Nicholas Easton, and William 
Brenton) were chosen " to assist in the execution 
of justice and judgment." 

In the nature of things a theocracy on the island 
of Aquidneck could not long endure. Antinomian- 
ism in the very term implied oppugnancy to forms. 
It was of the spirit, and the spirit must be free. 
Then, too, on Aquidneck, Antinomianism was suc- 
cored by the influence of two extraordinary person- 
alities — Anne Hutchinson and Samuel Gorton. 
The former had come to Portsmouth (where her 
husband William Hutchinson had preceded her) 
at the conclusion of her trial for heresy, — a trial 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 31 

in the issue of whicli she had been pronounced 
excommunicate and delivered up to Satan, — and 
Gorton had come fresh from his legal tussle with 
the magistrates of Plymouth. So pronounced now 
was the latitudinarian tendency that it alarmed 
both Coddington and Clarke. On April 29, 1639, 
they, together with their more immediate friends, 

— William Dyer, Thomas Hazard, and Henry Bull, 

— abandoned Portsmouth, and, proceeding to the 
southerly end of the island, established a new settle- 
ment — Newport. 

At Newport the system of government by judge 
and elders was reinaugurated, and to the judge 
there was accorded " a double voice." At Ports- 
mouth, meanwhile, ideas essentially Antinomian 
were given scope. The community made formal 
acknowledgment of King Charles I and (perhaps 
as a concession to Gorton) adopted the common 
law. They elected, for one year, a chief magis- 
trate (William Hutchinson) and eight assistants 
or councilmen, and established quarterly courts 
and trial by jury. The separation of the two island 
towns lasted until March 12, 1640, when, dis- 
covering that separated they were weak, they 
resumed the original union. Separation, however, 
had taught to each a lesson — the lesson taught 
of old by Mensenius Agrippa. At Portsmouth it 
had taught that radicalism may be too radical 
and end in anarchy. At Newport it had taught 
that conservatism may be too conservative and end 



32 RHODE ISLAND 

in tyranny. The government which the reunion 
brought into effect was characterized by wise fea- 
tures of both radicalism and conservatism. There 
were to be a governor and deputy-governor and 
four assistants — all annually chosen. The gov- 
ernor and two of the assistants were always to be 
chosen by one of the towns, and the deputy-gov- 
ernor and two of the assistants were always to be 
chosen by the other of the towns. There also were 
to be chosen, annually, two treasurers, a secretary, 
two constables, and a general sergeant. Nor did 
the work of statesmanship stop here. In 1641 the 
State was formally declared a democracy under 
the control of the " Body of Freemen orderly 
assembled, or the major part of them," and no 
one was to be " accounted a delinquent for Doc- 
trine " who kept the civil peace. Already there had 
been adopted the common law with its scheme of 
magisterial courts, courts of quarter sessions, and 
jury of the vicinage. 

Now that the island of Aquidneck had become 
a political entity, the contrast between it and the 
entity (or non-entitj') Providence was marked in 
the extreme. By Providence there was symbolized 
individualism both religious and political — a force 
centrifugal, disjunctive, and even disruptive. By 
Aquidneck (and especially by the Newport part of 
it) there was symbolized collectivism — a collec- 
tivism thoroughly individualized as to religion, but 
in politics conjunctive and centripetal. On Aquid- 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 33 

neck, as at Providence, the employment o£ the peo- 
ple was agriculture — swine and sheep breeding, 
the breeding of horses, and dairy farming. Agri- 
culture everywhere tends to separatism ; and in 
early Rhode Island it emphasized the individual- 
istic bent imparted by the idea of Freedom of Con- 
science. During the age of Roger Williams that 
which we are bidden to contemplate on the shores 
of Narragansett Bay is a struggle for supremacy 
between separatism and collectivism. 

3. Providence Plantations — the Patent of 1644' 

When pondering the question of reunion with 
Portsmouth, the Newport government had instructed 
Mr. John Clarke and Elder Nicholas Easton "to 
inform Mr. Yane by writing of the state of things 
here, and desire him to treate about the obtaining 
a Patent of the Island from his Majesty." Nothing 
had resulted, and in 1642 it was decided to send to 
England a representative — Roger Williams. 

Williams, because of the decree forbidding his 
presence in Massachusetts, set sail in 1643 from 
New York in a Dutch ship, and late in the summer 
or early in the autumn reached London. Here he 
met Sir Henry Vane, — the young Sir Henry whom 
he had known in Boston in 1635, now prominent in 
the councils of the Long Parliament, — and through 
Yane he came to know Oliver Cromwell. The 
affairs of the colonies were in charge of a Parlia- 
mentary board at the head of which was Robert, 



34 RHODE ISLAND 

Earl of Warwick. To this board application was 
made by Williams for a patent of incorporation for 
the Narragansett settlements — Providence, Ports- 
mouth, and Newport ; and on March 14, 1644, 
there was issued a patent under the appropriate 
seals. The instrument empowered the inhabitants 
of the settlements in question to " govern and rule 
themselves by such a form of civil government as 
by voluntary consent of all, or the greater part of 
them, they should find most serviceable ; . . . the 
laws ... of the said plantation to be conformable 
to the laws of England, so far as the nature and 
constitution of the place would admit." 

Seemingly all was well. But since 1641 there 
had been sojourning in London two ardent repre- 
sentatives of Massachusetts — the Rev. Thomas 
Welde and the Eev. Hugh Peters. Hearing of the 
mission of Williams in quest of a patent, they early 
had taken measures to thwart it. By dint of con- 
triving, they, on December 10, 1643, had obtained 
(under the signatures of nine members of the colo- 
nial board — one member less than a majority) a 
patent whereby there was added to the bounds and 
limits of Massachusetts the " tract of land . . . called 
the Narragansett Bay in America." The Narragan- 
sett Patent, as it was designated, was sent to Bos- 
ton in 1645, and there made the basis of a claim 
to the whole of the unoccupied part of the Narra- 
gansett region ; but the insufficiency of the instru- 
ment was too obvious to admit of much parleying, 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 35 

and the claim under it was unsuccessful. One fact 
it made manifest ; namely, that Roger Williams had 
come to England none too soon. 

With his own patent in possession, Williams re- 
turned to Providence in September, 1644, and his 
coming was made the occasion of a demonstration 
at Seekonk. He was met by a small flotilla of 
canoes, and triumphantly escorted home. But those 
who escorted him were all from Providence. None 
from the island participated in the act of welcome. 
Williams had been sent abroad to procure a patent 
for Aquidneck. It is not recorded that the people 
of Providence had even expressed a wish for a 
patent. When, therefore, the agent for the island 
returned bearing a patent which not only coupled 
Aquidneck with Providence, but bestowed upon the 
infelicitous combination the name " Providence 
Plantations," Coddington and his friends were 
little pleased. They exhibited their chagrin by 
postponing to the latest practicable moment re- 
cognition of validity in the instrument which had 
been secured. So far did they carry resentment 
that upon learning, just before Williams's arrival, of 
the step which he had taken, they hastened to apply 
to the New England Confederation to be received 
into alliance. " I desire," wrote Coddington to 
Winthrop on August 5, 1644, "to have either such 
alliance with yourselves or Plymouth, one or both 
as might be safe for us all." To this intimation 
the confederation replied declining an alliance, but 



36 RHODE ISLAND 

counseling subjection ; and here for a season the 
matter dropped. 

Although Coddington and his friends were loath 
to accept the Roger Williams patent, there were 
others upon the island who deemed acceptance the 
wiser course, and on May 19, 1647, a general 
convention was held at Portsmouth to organize for 
Providence Plantations a government. In this con- 
vention Providence was represented by ten dele- 
gates, but in the main the convention was probably 
a Landsgemeinde or popular gathering of free- 
holders. A year later the freeholders met again, 
this time at Providence ; and in 1649 and 1650 
further meetings were held. In October, 1650, the 
Landsgemeinde was superseded by a court of repre- 
sentatives. 

The work of the several conventions consisted in 
creating a government, legislative, executive, and 
judicial, and in adopting a code of laws. Legisla- 
tive power was vested in the freeholders through 
a committee of six from each town, called the 
General Court. A measure might originate with 
a single town or with the General Court, but was 
only to become a law upon adoption by " the Major 
parte of the Colonic." In 1650 this device was so 
far modified that the General Court was given 
" the full power of the General Assemblie " or free- 
men, but must submit its acts to the freemen for 
possible rejection. In its modified form the device 
was that of the Swiss Referendum. Executive 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 37 

functions were made to devolve chiefly on the pre- 
siding officer of the General Court, called " the 
President." The president was to be aided by four 
assistants, one from each town ; and besides these 
officers there were to be a treasurer, a sergeant, a 
general recorder, an attorney-general, and a solicit- 
or-general. A " Generall Courte of Tryalls,'* com- 
posed of the president and assistants, was instituted. 
It was to exercise original jurisdiction in graver 
criminal cases and in cases arising between town 
and town, between residents of different towns, 
or between a town and a resident of a neighbor- 
ing colony. Likewise there was instituted trial by 
jury. The code of laws which was adopted (the 
Code of 1647) is noteworthy in a high degree. By 
it the death penalty was limited to a few heinous 
offenses; banishment and imprisonment for debt 
were repudiated ; divorce might be granted only 
for adultery ; and the maritime code, '' the Lawes 
of Oleron," was declared in force. 

The Code of 1647 was the work of the people 
of Aquidneck. It embodied their organizing and 
systematizing spirit and thus wrought for collectiv- 
ism. But in its framing there were not overlooked 
the claims of particularism. Providence, in com- 
missioning its ten delegates to the Portsmouth 
convention, had been at pains to instruct them to 
make known its wish " to have full power and au- 
thoritie to transacte all [its] home affaires," and 
the wish was both made known and regarded. A 



38 RHODE ISLAND 

bill of rights, containing the familiar provisions of 
Magna Charta in defense of personal liberty, was 
passed. In the sessions of the Court of Trials the 
magistrates of the town where the court was held 
were empowered to sit with the general magistrates 
for " councile and helpe." The court, furthermore, 
was to sit permanently in no one town, but, as also 
(after 1652) the General Assembly, was to make 
the circuit of the towns, beginning with Newport. 
Warwick, which had not been named in the patent, 
was accorded the privileges of the other towns ; 
and in order that the one underlying principle in 
which Providence, Portsmouth, Newport, and War- 
wick were agreed — the supreme raison d'etre for 
their several and collective existence — might be 
duly emphasized, the Code of 1647 was drawn to 
a conclusion thus : " Otherwise than what is . . . 
herein forbidden, all men may walk as their con- 
sciences persuade them, everyone in the name of 
his God." 

The first president of Providence Plantations 
was a Newport man, John Coggeshall ; but upon 
the island William Coddington had been almost 
continuously chief magistrate, and in May, 1648, 
he was chosen president. He however did not come 
forward to accept the office. He was too busily en- 
gaged in intriguing for the admission of Aquidneck 
into the New England Confederation. Indeed, in 
September, 1648, he and a few others formally 
petitioned the confederation to be received in "a 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 39 

firme and perpetuall League of friendship." The 
petition was rejected, and in October Coddington, 
accompanied by his daughter, set sail for England 
to make trial what he himself might be able to do 
toward obtaining for the island that autonomy 
which it had failed to receive at the hands of 
Roger Williams. In London Coddington met Sir 
Henry Vane and Hugh Peters. The latter had 
become a preacher to the Council of State, and 
through his aid, perchance, the Aquidneck magnate 
gained an introduction to the council itself. At all 
events, he laid before that body a petition in which 
he described himself as the " discoverer and owner " 
of the islands of Aquidneck and Conanicut in 
Narragansett Bay, and asked to be confirmed in 
his title to these islands and to be made governor 
over them. The petition was referred in March, 
1651, and, despite protests from Edward Winslow 
in behalf of Plymouth, was so speedily acted upon 
that by April 3 Coddington found himself ap- 
pointed governor of the two islands for life — a 
veritable king in miniature, with power to select a 
council of six, to administer law, and to raise forces 
for defence. 

Short lived was his glory. In August, 1651, he 
reached home. Meetings forthwith were held at 
Newport, Providence, and Portsmouth. On every 
hand there was shown a determination to secure a 
revocation of the new and revolutionary patent. 
Accordingly, in November, Roger Williams for 



40 KHODE ISLAND 

the mainland and John Clarke for the island were 
on their way to the mother country. There they 
met Vane and Cromwell, and on October 2, 1652, 
an order was obtained directing that Providence 
Plantations continue under the government au- 
thorized in the Roger Williams patent until further 
commanded. 

Roger Williams returned from England in 1654 ; 
but although news of the revocation of the Cod- 
dington patent had been received in the Plan- 
tations in February, 1653, the mainland and the 
island were found still to be maintaining a divided 
existence. Samuel Gorton had filled for one year 
the office of president of the mainland towns, and 
in 1652 a law had been enacted by these towns, pro- 
viding that " whereas there is a common course 
practiced amongst Englishmen to buy negers that 
they may have them for service or slaves forever," 
it be ordered that " no black mankind, or white," 
may be forced to serve any man or his assigns 
longer than ten years. On the island Coddington 
had been met by armed resistance, and, forced to 
seek safety in flight, had in April, 1652, at Boston, 
signed a disavowal of exclusive personal proprietor- 
ship of the island lands. In 1653, the island, anti- 
cipating a future source of wealth and power, had 
commissioned privateers in the war then in pro- 
gress between England and Holland. 

It remained for Williams, by virtue of a severe 
arraignment of the colony under the hand of Sir 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 41 

Henry Vane, and by virtue of an eloquent and 
moving appeal under his own hand, to effect a 
reunion of the island with the mainland. Formal 
articles of agreement were ratified on August 31, 
1654, and on September 12 Koger Williams was 
elected president of the rehabilitated common- 
wealth. As for William Coddington, his last hope 
was extinguished when, in March, 1655, Oliver 
Cromwell, now Lord Protector, wrote that the col- 
ony were to proceed in their government " accord- 
ing to ye tenor of their charter formerly granted." 
A year later the Newport magnate put his hand 
to the declaration : " I W^illiam Coddington, doe 
freely submit to ye authoritie of his Highness in 
this Colonic, as it is now united, and that with all 
my heart." 

The struggle against collectivism, by which the 
first period of Rhode Island history is character- 
ized, was a struggle not confined to bodies politic 
such as the mainland and island. It extended to 
religious sects. Providence from the first had been 
Anabaptist. At Newport the original Antinomian- 
ism had gradually been tending to Anabaptism 
and Quietism. Upon removing to Aquidneck, Anne 
Hutchinson had become Anabaptist; so much so 
that, impelled by distrust of the coUectivistic spirit 
of Coddington with its longing after the United 
Colonies, she, in 1642 or 1643, had removed to 
East Chester, New York, where she and all her 
family, save one, had faUen a prey to the Indians. 



42 RHODE ISLAND 

In Roger Williams Anabaptism had, in 1639 
or 1640, become Seekerism, the ne plus ultra of 
religious individualism ; and in William Harris 
secularism (by reason of the poverty of the man 
— land was an inconvertible asset) had become a 
kind of anarchism. In 1657, during the presidency 
of Williams, Harris, because of his advocacy of 
the doctrine that " he that can say it is his con- 
science ought not to yield subjection to any human 
order amongst men," was arrested and tried for 
high treason. By 1651 Anabaptism on the island 
was grown distinctively aggressive. In July three 
Anabaptists — John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, and 
John Crandall — boldly ventured into Massachu- 
setts with their practices. They were seized, and 
one of them (Holmes) was scourged for his temerity 
with a three-thonged lash. 

To Anabaptist aggressiveness there succeeded 
the more intense aggressiveness of the Quakers. 
The sect began coming to Boston from England 
in 1656. Driven from that town by stripes, they 
were received at Newport. In September, 1657, 
the New England Confederation upbraided Provi- 
dence Plantations for its course. At this time 
Benedict Arnold was president, and his reply was : 
" We have no law whereby to punish any for only 
declaring by words their minds and understandings 
concerning the things and ways of God as to Sal- 
vation and an eternal condition." Between 1656 
and 1660 many were the Quakers that from the 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 43 

convenient harborage of Aquidneck essayed tlie 
wrath of the Bay and of its high priest of persecu- 
tion, John Endicott. Among them were Mary 
Clarke, Christopher Holder, John Copeland, Wil- 
liam Brend, William Robinson, and Marmaduke 
Stevenson; but the most noteworthy of them all 
was Mary Dyer. She was wife to the secretary 
of the colony, William Dyer, and though sweet of 
disposition, had, under Anne Hutchinson, her pre- 
ceptress, become so infatuated an individualist, so 
relentless a challenger of theocratic pretensions, 
that she can hardly be regarded as possessed of 
perfect mental balance. By reiterated baitings of 
Endicott she provoked her own death, and on June 
1, 1660, was hanged on Boston Common. 

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations — The 
Charter of 1663 

On March 13, 1644, the General Court of 
Aquidneck changed the name of that island to 
the " Isle of Rhodes or Rhode Island." No little 
discussion has from time to time been occasioned 
by surmises as to the origin of the name ; but 
Roger Williams, writing in 1666, remarked that 
"Rhode Island, like the Isle of Rhodes, in the 
Greek language is an island of Roses ; " and deri- 
vation more authoritative we perhaps shall not be 
able to discover.^ At all events, in 1663, when 

1 In the English Historical Review for October, 1903, Mr. Louis 
Dyer, of Oxford, England, advances the theory that the name 



44 RHODE ISLAND 

John Clarke was negotiating with the restored 
monarch Charles II for a royal charter for the 
Narragansett Bay colony, he was careful to repay 
Williams for his assumption (in the Patent of 
1644) of the name " Providence Plantations " by 
placing before the latter, in the new instrument, 
the name " Rhode Island." 

The restoration of Charles, which took place in 
1660, was for the Narragansett Bay settlements 
an event of the first importance. Now that the 
king was on his throne, the question arose, What 
validity has the Patent of 1644? It was felt that 
measures to secure a royal charter should be taken 
without delay. John Clarke was in England, where 
he had lingered on private business after the re- 
turn of Roger Williams in 1654, and to him in 
1661 there was sent a commission as agent for the 
colony in its new undertaking. Clarke set earnestly 
to work, and on July 8, 1663, the charter was issued. 
It was conveyed to the Plantations by Captain 
George Baxter, and on November 24 the freemen 
assembled at Newport to inspect the instrument 
and to hear it read. It was taken by Baxter from 

" Rhode Island " is merely a translation of the Indian name for 
the island of Rhode Island — Aquidneck. "Aquidneck," observes 
Mr. Dyer, "the island in the bay, -was englished into Road or 
Roads Island. The prevalence in the early texts of the spelling 
Boad goes to confirm this account of the matter. . . 'Roade 
Island is' (we read in a document dated in 1661 [Richman's 
Bhode Island, vol. ii, p. 239]) *a road, refuge, asylum, to evil 
livers.' " From the above Mr. S. S. Rider strongly dissents in 
Book Notes, vol. xx. 



THE AGE OF ROGEK WILLIAMS 45 

its box, and by him " with much becoming gravity 
held up on hygh to the perfect view of the peo- 
ple." It then was read aloud and returned for safe 
keeping to its receptacle. The alterations which it 
effected in the existing constitution were not funda- 
mental. Boundaries were made more certain ; Free- 
dom of Conscience was elaborately confirmed ; the 
president was superseded by a governor and deputy- 
governor ; the assistants were increased from four 
to ten ; the General Assembly was made to consist 
in the governor (or deputy -governor), the assist- 
ants, and a body of deputies to be chosen, six from 
Newport, four each from Providence, Portsmouth, 
and Warwick, and two each from all other towns ; 
the courts were left much as before, but the Court 
of Trials was made a fixture at Newport. 

In obtaining for their government and jurisdic- 
tion the sanction of a charter from the king, it was 
hoped by Ehode Islanders to insure for themselves 
the toleration and, perchance, respect of their 
neighbors on the east and on the west. But so it 
did not turn out. By both Massachusetts and Con- 
necticut the charter was deemed a sword rather 
than an olive branch. Since the acts of subjection 
on the part of the Arnolds, and of Pumham and 
Sacononoco, the Bay and Plymouth (one or both) 
had asserted a claim to eastern Ehode Island, 
including the island of Aquidneck. These claims 
were practically disallowed in 1665, when commis- 
sioners of the king fixed the eastern littoral of Nar- 



46 RHODE ISLAND 

ragansett Bay as tlie western limit of any possible 
claim by Plymouth; and the whole question was 
settled in 1746-47, when, by a final decision of the 
crown, Massachusetts (the heir in 1691 to Plymouth 
territory) was obliged under the charter to sur- 
render to Rhode Island the border towns of Cum- 
berland, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton, and Little 
Compton. 

But it was with Connecticut that the principal 
difficulty was encountered. On the return of the 
Gortonists from Boston in 1644, they found a tem- 
porary asylum at Portsmouth. Thence Samuel 
Gorton was summoned by Canonicus to an impor- 
tant conference. The Narragansett Indians, observ- 
ing that the Gortonists had been liberated by the 
Puritans, came to the conclusion that the former 
must be identified with the stronger party in Eng- 
land (where war was known to be in progress), and 
the Puritans with the weaker. They therefore, as 
against the weak Puritans (by whom Miantonomi 
had been put to death), decided to espouse the cause 
of the strong Gortonists, and desired of Gorton that 
he would make record of a formal act of subjection 
by them to the English sachem. The record was 
duly made on April 19, and in December Samuel 
Gorton, together with Randall Holden, was on his 
way with the document to the shores of a distracted 
realm. 

During the period of the English Commonwealth 
the act of subjection by the Narragansetts to the 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 47 

king was of course entirely void of effect. Oppres- 
sion on the Indians by the Puritans increased rather 
than diminished. 

The territory chiefly occupied by the Narragan- 
sett nation was that part of the present State of 
Khode Island south of the south line of Warwick 
and Coventry. It was a region of stony soil, but 
its lagoons and streams were well supplied with 
fish. As early as 1640 or 1641 Richard Smith, a 
Gloucestershire man, had built a trading house at 
Cawcamsqussick (Wickford) ; and in 1645 or 1647 
Roger Williams also had come hither to trade. In 
January, 1657, the easterly part of so much of the 
present town of South Kingstown as lies west of 
Boston and Point Judith Necks was purchased 
from the Indians by a company of Newporters 
called the Pettiquamscutt Company ; and in June, 
1660, a further company of Newport men purchased 
Misquamicutt (Westerly). The purchase by the 
Pettiquamscutt Company — an association compris- 
ing among its members one stanch Bostonian, 
John HulP — gave Providence Plantations occa- 
sion to reflect, and in 1658 there was passed a law 
forbidding purchases from the Indians without 
consent of the colony. In 1661 confirmation of the 
Misquamicutt purchase was secured ; but for a pur- 
chase made in 1659 by a company of Massachusetts 

1 The other members of the company were Samuel Wilbor, 
Thomas Mumford, John Porter, and Samuel Wilson. Afterwards 
Benedict Arnold and William Brenton became members. 



48 RHODE ISLAND 

men, called the Atherton Company, confirmation 
was not even asked. 

The objects of the Atherton association were two- 
fold : to obtain a vast tract of land, and to place 
this tract under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts 
or Connecticut. In the attainment of their first 
object they secured, in 1659, Indian deeds for 
Quidnesset (northeasterly North Kingstown) and 
Namcook (Boston Neck) ; and in 1660 they secured 
from Ninigret, the Nyantic, and other sachems, an 
Indian mortgage upon all the unoccupied lands of 
Narragansett. The mortgage was given to insure 
to the association repayment of an indemnity which 
had been exacted from Ninigret by the United 
Colonies, but which the association had artfully 
assumed. Under the mortgage (in 1662) the asso- 
ciation undertook to perfect a title by foreclosure. 
The same year the second object of the Atherton 
Company was seemingly effected through a charter 
issued by the crown to Connecticut for territory 
extending on the eastward to the "Narragansett 
Eiver." 

The agent principally concerned in negotiating 
the charter for Connecticut was eTohn Winthrop, 
Jr., son of the early governor of Massachusetts, 
and Winthrop had been made a member of the 
Atherton Company. The issuing of the Connecti- 
cut charter narrowed controversy, for thereby 
Massachusetts, which had been claiming a part of 
Narragansett as land conquered from the Pequods, 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 49 

was completely ousted. As between Connecticut 
and Rhode Island, the jurisdiction of the latter 
over Narragansett was at the last moment sought 
to be saved by John Clarke by a stipulation, 
concluded between himself and Winthrop, that 
wherever in the Connecticut charter the eastern 
boundary of that colony was described as fixed by 
the Narragansett River, the words " Narragansett 
River " should be taken as signifying Pawcatuck 
River — the western limit of Rhode Island under 
the Patent of 1644. 

Out of the Clarke- Winthrop stipulation there 
grew a controversy as prolonged as it was bitter. 
In 1665 Sir Robert Carr, Colonel George Cart- 
wright, and Mr. Samuel Maverick, as commissioners 
of the king for settling the royal authority in New 
England, visited Rhode Island, and while there 
they met in council the sachems of the Narragan- 
setts. They found them enraged at Massachusetts 
and the United Colonies because of the indemnity 
mortgage and pretensions of the Atherton Com- 
pany. They also found them possessed of a lively 
recollection of the submission which, in 1644, 
they as a nation had made to King Charles I. 
Under these conditions, and privately instructed 
as the commissioners were by Lord Clarendon, they 
annulled the Atherton mortgage, and placed the 
Narragansett country (entitled the King's Pro- 
vince) under the administrative authority of Rhode 
Island. This act, however, by no means put an 



60 RHODE ISLAND 

end to the claims of Connecticut. These claims 
were asserted and reasserted. Sustained in 1683 
by a royal commission headed by Edward Cran- 
field, they were rejected in 1687 by Sir Edmund 
Andros. Sustained again, in 1696, by the attorney- 
general of King William, they were yielded vol- 
untarily in 1703 (out of policy) by Connecticut 
itself. Revived in 1723, they were abandoned for- 
ever in 1728. Meanwhile, in 1674, Rhode Island 
had erected the Kings Province into the town of 
Kingstown, and in 1677 had detached from Kings- 
town the town of East Greenwich. 

The men to whom the preservation of Narra- 
gansett to Rhode Island is mainly to be ascribed 
were Samuel Gorton, Randall Holden, and the 
John Greenes, father and son. Gorton and Hol- 
den, as a result of their journey to England in 
1644 with the sachems' deed, obtained an order 
permitting the reoccupation of Shawomet (War- 
wick). Afterwards (1660) William Harris, whose 
appetite for land was insatiable, had, under cer- 
tain deeds from the Indians (called "confirmation 
deeds "), obtained color of title to a wide area for 
the Providence town fellowship and the Pawtuxet 
proprietors. Some of the Pawtuxet land (under 
the " confirmation deeds ") extended south of the 
north line of Warwick, and this circumstance led 
to a union on the part of the Gortonists with Roger 
Williams to resist Harris. 

In 1677 Holden and John Greene, Jr., visited 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 51 

England, but gained no permanent advantage. In 
1679 Harris set forth for the same destination. 
He did so not merely in his own interest, but 
as the authorized agent of Connecticut and the 
Atherton associates to further their pretensions 
to Narragansett. While on the way (January, 
1680) the ship in which he was embarked, the 
Unity, was captured by Algerians, and he himself 
was made a slave and held for ransom. Piteous 
were the letters which Harris sent home to his 
family and friends. "I pray you therefore," he 
wrote on April 4, " to stir up both parties to 
send bills of the said sum 1191 pieces of eight 
and 5 royals. If the sum fail, or the time, it is 
most likely to be my death ; — for then I fall per- 
manently into the cruel man's hands that hath 
like to kill me already." The money was secured 
and sent, and in the winter of 1680-81 Harris was 
given his freedom, but the boon came too late. On 
reaching London, the victim of Algerine barbarity 
died from exhaustion. Had he lived, the cause of 
Connecticut would have been powerfully advocated. 
That he did not live, that through the labors and 
pains exacted of him he perished, is significant of 
the vigor and pertinacity with which he was with- 
stood. 

In the midst of the struggle for Narragansett 
(indeed, much as though in mockery of it), there 
broke forth King Philip's War. The conflict was 
one which long had been impending. Little by 



52 KHODE ISLAND 

little the Pokanokets — the people of the region 
once ruled by Massasoit — had been crowded to 
the westward and had grown sullen and suspicious. 
Causes, too, in the case of the Narragansetts had 
been making for alienation. First there was the 
execution (never to be forgotten) of Miantonomi. 
Next there was the fruitless and disappointing 
submission and resubmission of the nation to the 
Stuart kings. It was the English of the United 
Colonies that chiefly were responsible for the un- 
happy situation ; but the time had at length come 
in New England when it was realized by the In- 
dian that he and his white brother were not com- 
patible, could not dwell together, but must contend 
for supremacy. 

The immediate occasion of hostilities was the 
death of Wamsutta or Alexander, the elder son of 
Massasoit. In 1662 Alexander had been arrested, 
by order of the governor of Plymouth, on suspicion 
of conspiracy, and during his detention had died 
of a fever. It was thought by the Indians that he 
had been poisoned. His successor was his brother 
Meatacom or Philip. It was resolved by Philip to 
avenge Alexander's death, and in June, 1675, he 
withdrew into the country of the Nipmucs (central 
Massachusetts), leaving behind him a trail of fire 
and blood. At this time the war sachem of the 
Narragansetts was Canonchet, a son of Mianto- 
nomi. The war begun by Philip was regarded by 
Canonchet as an opportunity to avenge the death 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 63 

of his parent, and he lent what aid he could against 
Plymouth and Massachusetts. In December the 
three colonies — Plymouth, Massachusetts, and 
Connecticut — invaded the Narragansett country. 
Assailing the Indians in their stronghold or forti- 
fied village, they inflicted upon them a crushing 
defeat. Early in 1676 the dispersed Narragansetts 
burned Warwick and a portion of Providence. 
In their advance on Providence they destroyed 
" Study Hill " in Cumberland, the abode of Wil- 
liam Blackstone, an eccentric recluse of the Church 
of England and friend of Roger Williams. As for 
Williams himself, it is the tradition that on the 
approach of the savages he fearlessly met them, 
staff in hand, and sought to dissuade them from 
further acts of devastation, but in vain. 

In April Canonchet was captured and put to 
death. His executioner, strangely enough, was 
Oneko, son of Uncas, the destroyer of Miantonomi. 
The final event in King Philip's War was the killing 
of Philip himself by a force under Captain Benja- 
min Church of Plymouth. Driven from point to 
point, Philip, in June, concealed himself in a swamp 
at the foot of his ancient fastness of Mount Hope. 
Church was told of his whereabouts, and, secretly 
investing the spot at night, startled his prey. The 
entrapped sachem made a bold dash for liberty, 
but was shot through the heart by one of Church's 
men, and fell headlong in the mud and water.^ 

^ King Philip's War left the Narragansett Indians much reduced 



54 RHODE ISLAND 

Rhode Island as a colony took little part in 
King Philip's War. The cause was the dominance 
of the Quakers. Antinomianism on Aquidneck 
had now been merged in Quakerism. The early 
families — the Coddingtons, the Eastons, the 
Clarkes, the Bulls — nearly all had become Quak- 
ers. In 1672 George Fox himself had visited New- 
port, and his presence had been made by Roger 
Williams (who still was enough of a Puritan to 

and dispersed. By 1707 Ninigret (the head of the tributary Ny- 
antics) was the only sachem of Narragansett affiliations with 
whom the Rhode Island government could treat. With him, ac- 
cordingly, on March 2S, 1709, an agreement was made by which 
all of the vacant Narragansett territory (the region which had 
been sought to be appropriated by the Atherton Company) was 
conveyed to the colony, except a tract eight miles square in 
Charlestown, which was kept as an Indian reservation. In 1713 
an act was passed by the General Assembly inhibiting sales 
within the reservation save by consent of the colony. In 1759 
the inhibition was removed. In 1763 various members of the 
Narragansett nation made complaint that, through the removal 
of the inhibition, their sachem (Thomas Ninigret) was rapidly 
dispossessing the nation of all its lands. The colony therefore in- 
terposed, but the alienation of lands (especially upon long leases) 
was not much checked, and in 1792 a committee was appointed 
to establish regulations. By 1791 the whole number of Narra- 
gansetts in Charlestown had dwindled to two hundred and fifty, 
and by 1833 to one hundred and ninety-nine, of whom only seven 
were of the genuine blood. In 1880 the tribal relations of the 
Narragansett nation were abolished and rights of citizenship were 
conferred upon the members. — Opinion of the Justices of the R. I. 
Supreme Court relative to the Narragansetts, January, 1898. A 
Statement of the Case of the Narragansett Tribe of Indians as shown 
by the Manuscript Collection of Sir William Johnson, compiled by 
James N. Arnold, 1896. 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 56 

detest the heresy of the " inner light ") occasion 
for a challenge to public debate. Fox had departed 
before the challenge could be delivered to him, but 
it had been accepted by his associates, John Burn- 
yeat, John Stubbs, and William Edmundson. On 
August 9 a tumultuous controversy — one which 
Williams had come all the way from Providence 
in an open boat to conduct — had been held in the 
Newport Quaker meeting-house. 

By the Charter of 1663 there was imparted to 
Rhode Island, despite the machinations of Massa- 
chusetts and Connecticut, stability both territorial 
and administrative. Under the instrument, collec- 
tivism gained over separatism. The several towns 
were reduced in their privileges, and the colony 
became for the first time an entity. So far did 
the process of integration extend that Block Island 
(which down to 1662 had been an appanage of 
Massachusetts) was in 1664 incorporated with 
Rhode Island, and in 1672 erected into the politi- 
cal division New Shoreham. 

4. Sir Edmund Andros and the Quo Warranto. 

At the end of the seventeen years during which 
England had been ruled by Parliament or by 
Cromwell, the American colonies — particularly 
Massachusetts — had grown well-nigh independent 
and had developed a considerable commerce. They 
had traded without hindrance with the friends and 
enemies of the mother country; with the Dutch 



56 RHODE ISLAND 

more especially ; and their freedom (in words at- 
tributable to Roger Williams) had perhaps been 
for them " a sweete cup," rendering them " wan- 
ton and too active." Now that the monarchy was 
restored, it became the royal policy — a policy 
inaugurated by Clarendon — to curb colonial pre- 
tensions. 

The curbing was to be in two directions : in that 
of Puritan religious intolerance and in that of dis- 
regard of the acts of Revenue and Navigation. So 
far as Massachusetts was concerned, the king's 
commissioners had in 1664 endeavored to change 
the basis of the suffrage from church membership 
to property, and to secure recognition for the book 
of common prayer, and of a right in the crown to 
try revenue cases ; but with little result other than 
to provoke hostile demonstrations. In Rhode 
Island there of course was no religious intolerance, 
and the colony possessed little commerce ; so the 
crown was content with the situation. Nor perhaps 
would a different feeling have arisen had it not 
been for the renewal of difficulties with the Neth- 
erlands. But difficulties were renewed ; and when, 
in 1674, peace at length was declared, the exas- 
peration of the English crown and merchants at the 
disloyal trading spirit of the colonies, which had 
dwelt on gain while Monk struggled in the Channel 
with De Ruyter, was intense. 

The revenue acts, breach of which had been 
complained of by the commissioners, were acts 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 57 

passed respectively in 1660 and 1663 (12th and 
15th of Charles II) ; and they so far restricted 
colonial trade as to prohibit, with slight exception, 
the direct importation of European commodities 
into the colonies. Such commodities must be carried 
thither by way of England. The acts in reality 
imposed no particular hardship on the colonies, for 
England was for most things the best purchasing 
market in any event. Indeed, in one important 
respect the acts were positively beneficial. Under 
them trade with the colonies might be conducted 
only in English built or British colonial built 
ships, and for the building of such ships the colo- 
nies themselves (especially in New England) were 
well adapted. More than aught else, therefore, 
breach of the acts was an expression of resentment 
on the part of colonial importers and shippers at 
being required to abandon the easy, convenient, 
and long - established practice of employing the 
ubiquitous Dutch bottoms. 

In 1675 and 1676 the English merchants — Lon- 
don silk mercers and others — petitioned the crown 
for redress against New England as the " mart and 
staple whereby the navigation of the kingdom is 
injured ; " and the same year Edward Eandolph 
was sent over, as agent for the Lords of Trade and 
Plantations, to make an investigation. He visited 
several of the colonies, and in 1678 his position 
was strengthened by an appointment as collector 
and surveyor of customs. Thenceforth his every 



58 RHODE ISLAND 

effort was put forth toward securing what he knew 
the crown desired, namely, proof of violations of 
law and privileges on the part of the chartered colo- 
nies sufficient to justify an annulment of the char- 
ters themselves. As a result of his toils, the charter 
of Massachusetts was annulled in 1684. In 1685 
he was instructed to " prepare papers . . . upon 
which writs of quo warranto might be granted 
against Connecticut and Ehode Island." 

Eandolph promptly complied in a document 
which alleged, in the case of Khode Island, that 
the colony disregarded the laws of England and, 
like Massachusetts, " violated the Acts of Trade." 
A writ accordingly was issued, and in May, 1686, 
the collector (who for a season had been in Eng- 
land) reached America with it in his possession. 
It was served in June, and the General Assembly, 
loyal to the last, voted " not to stand suit with his 
Majesty but to proceed by . . . humble address 
... to continue our humble privileges and liber- 
ties according to our charter." It had been the 
plan of the crown to unite Massachusetts, New 
Hampshire, Maine, Plymouth, and Narragansett 
into a royal province; but in February, 1685, 
Charles II had died, and under James II, his 
successor, there was provisionally adopted a 
plan whereby Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and 
Narragansett were placed under the government 
of a " President and Council." The president 
was Joseph Dudley of Boston, and for a short 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 59 

period Narragansett, whicJi had been organized as 
Kingstown, was fated to bear the name of Roches- 
ter. 

On June 3, 1686, the whole of New England 
was created a royal province under Sir Edmund 
Andros as governor in chief, and the chartered 
liberties of Connecticut and Rhode Island seemed 
by the act forever to be forfeited and concluded. 
Late in the year Andros made official announce- 
ment of his authority to receive the surrender of 
the Rhode Island charter, and in 1687, while on a 
visit to Newport, he demanded the instrument. It, 
however, had been put out of the hands of Walter 
Clarke, the governor, and could not be found. In 
Rhode Island the rule of Andros was little note- 
worthy. The General Assembly, taking advantage 
of the separatist spirit still strong in the common- 
wealth, had in 1686 sought to devolve political au- 
thority on the several towns ; had sought, in other 
words, to meet danger (after the manner of some 
forms of crustacean life) by resolving the threat- 
ened organism into its integral and elemental parts. 
How far the plan might have succeeded cannot be 
told, for in April, 1689, on news of the abdication 
of James II, New England rose against Andros 
and imprisoned him. In Rhode Island government 
was reestablished under the charter in February, 
1690, with Henry Bull as governor ; and in 1693 
(December 7) the attorney-general of the crown 
rendered a formal opinion that in point of law 



60 RHODE ISLAND 

nothing stood in the way of a confirmation of the 
charter by William and Mary. 

With the flight of James from Whitehall the 
age of Eoger Williams comes fully and finally to 
a close. Since 1643, the year of the founding of 
Warwick, the four geographical points — Provi- 
dence, Portsmouth, Newport, and Warwick — had 
grown slowly. At Providence and Warwick the 
people still pastured their cattle and horses, and 
turned loose their depredating swine. Earely did 
they get news of the outside world, and none of 
them, save William Harris, achieved anything like 
the position of a magnate. At Newport sheep and 
horses were bred, and men such as William Cod- 
dington, William Brenton, Nicholas Easton, and 
Henry Bull, identified themselves with picturesque 
estates which, in " Coddington Cove," " Brenton's 
Neck," "Easton's Beach," and "Bull's Point," 
have perpetuated their names. By 1686 the popu- 
lation of the island was perhaps twenty-five hun- 
dred. That of Providence was perhaps six hundred, 
and that of Portsmouth and Warwick together, 
perhaps eight or nine hundred. 

As contrasted with each other, the island was 
refined, flourishing, aristocratic, while the main- 
land was primitive, poor, and plebeian. Yet despite 
the limitations of an agricultural existence — an 
existence ameliorated at Newport after 1660 by 
intimations of commerce — the age of Roger Wil- 



THE AGE OF ROGER WILLIAMS 61 

liams in Rhode Island was a great age. For the 
first time in human history State had wholly been- 
dissociated from Church in a commonwealth not 
Utopian but real. For the first time the funda- 
mental idea of modern civilization — that of rights 
of man as a being responsible primarily to God 
and not to the community — had been given an 
impulse powerful and direct. 

As for the six historical personalities about 
whom the age centred, all now were dead. Anne 
Hutchinson, the vindicator of faith against works, 
had died in 1643. John Clarke, the procurer of 
the Charter of 1663, had died in 1676. Samuel 
Gorton, the founder of Warwick and defender of 
Narragansett, had died in 1677. William Codding- 
ton, the first Newport magnate, had died in 1678. 
William Harris — more even than Coddington the 
Mammon of the group — had died in 1681. The 
last to pass away was Roger Williams himself. He 
died between January 16 and May 10, 1683, aged 
about eighty years. 



PART II 

COMMERCE AND COOPERATION 

1690-1763 



CHAPTER III 

PAPER MONEY 
Canadian Expeditions — The Ten " Banks " — Trevett vs. Weeden. 

King William, who with Mary his spouse came to 
the English throne in 1689, was a ruler who knew 
thoroughly his own mind, and that mind was to 
diminish in the world the disproportionate power 
of France under Louis XIV. He purposed to 
make war upon Louis ; and as war would involve a 
clash between the French and English in America, 
it became part of his policy to dispose the Ameri- 
can colonies into groups, and to place the control 
of each group (for military ends) in a single hand. 
Thus Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Is- 
land were constituted a New England group under 
the military control of Sir William Phips. 

Of the policy of King William, however, the 
part spoken of was conspicuous for ill success. 
Neither Connecticut nor Rhode Island (because of 
its charter) would recognize in Phips the least 
authority. Then there was France. Already Count 
Frontenac had hurled bands of savages against 
New York, New Hampshire, and the dwellers on 
the Penobscot. Schenectady had fallen in massa- 



66 RHODE ISLAND 

ere, and Boston itself had not been without alarm. 
In 1692, therefore, the English government gave 
urgent direction that a conference be held at Al- 
bany. Most of the colonies — distant Maryland 
included — sent delegates, but Rhode Island did 
not ; nor did it respond to a direct appeal for help 
addressed to it in 1693 by the governor of New 
York, Benjamin Fletcher. 

In fact, throughout the whole of King William's 
War (1690-1697) the Narragansett Bay colony 
furnished aid neither to Phips nor Fletcher, and 
one at least of its pleas in apology must excite a 
smile. Owing, it said, to the undeterminated state 
of its eastern boundary, Massachusetts was enabled 
to " detain from it several of its towns," whereby 
it was "incapacitated." But another plea Khode 
Island offered which was honest and in large mea- 
sure a justification. " May it please your most 
excellent Majesty," the General Assembly wrote to 
the king in 1693, " tJiis your Collony is a frontier 
to your collonies in New England^ hy sea.^^ Rhode 
Island and the Sea is a topic that awaits us with 
the next chapter, but we may here pause to reflect 
how truly this early official letter struck the key- 
note of Rhode Island history in the eighteenth 
century. Privateering gave rise to hardihood and 
skill upon the wave ; hardihood and skill brought 
to Narragansett Bay wealth from the West Indies ; 
and by wealth there was built up that Newport 
which, throughout the three decades just preced- 



PAPER MONEY 67 

ing tlie Eevolution, surpassed New York for trade 
and quite eclipsed Boston for culture. 

The death of William in 1702 left Louis XIV 
to be dealt with by Queen Anne, and the queen 
(by Marlborough's help) waged war against him 
from 1702 to 1713. In the earlier stages of the 
war Rhode Island failed to meet demands for men 
made by New York and Massachusetts ; but in 
1707 it changed its attitude, furnishing, at the 
request of Massachusetts, militia and a ship in the 
abortive expedition against Port Royal. This ac- 
tion it emphasized in 1709 by cheerfully respond- 
ing with its quota and with two ships of war for the 
contemplated Vetch-Nicholson expedition against 
Canada ; and again in 1710 it was at hand with 
more than its quota and with three warships for 
the second and, this time (as it proved), successful 
Port Royal expedition. From 1707 to 1763 — a 
period marked by the disastrous invasion of Canada 
in 1711, the disastrous attack upon Cartagena in 
1741, the brilliant capture of Louisburg in 1745^ 
and by the whole series of struggles ending with 
the conquest of Canada in 1763 — Rhode Island 
was pervaded by a martial spirit, a spirit involving 
of necessity much also of the spirit of cooperation. 

In 1710 (during the governorship of Samuel 
Cranston) the cloud like a man's hand appeared. 
In that year the colony, staggered by the cost of 
its military undertakings, voted an issue of bills of 



68 RHODE ISLAND 

credit for X5000. These were to mature in five years 
and were to be redeemed in specie. To insure re- 
demption, an annual tax of <£1000 was laid for the 
period during which the bills were to be outstand- 
ing. In making the issue in question, Ehode Island 
followed the example of Massachusetts, a colony 
which in 1690 had had recourse to bills to meet 
the demands of its soldiers disappointed of booty 
in Canada. Cotton Mather quaintly condones these 
demands, observing : " Arma tenenti^ omnia dat^ 
qui justa negat ; ^^ and in truth it is difficult to see 
what course other than to pledge its good faith 
was open either to Massachusetts or Rhode Island 
in the circumstances in which both were placed. 

Harm for Rhode Island lay not in a small issue 
of redeemable bills of credit ; it lay in the taste of 
the joys of credit ^er se — unlimited credit — which 
these bills were the means of affording a hungry 
demos. In 1710 the colony was not beyond the 
agricultural stage ; it had few merchants ; its pre- 
dominant class were landowners; and what is 
more these landowners were land poor. Add the 
fact that in the eighteenth century the nature of 
money and of the relation of money to credit was 
in general ill understood, and it is not surprising 
that in Rhode Island the demos (the landowners), 
balked of a circulating medium, should at the first 
opportunity have gone credit mad. 

A second issue of colony bills came in the year 
1715, and this issue differed from the first. The 



PAPER MONEY 69 

bills (£40,000) now no longer were secured by tax 
levy, but by mortgages upon land. Any person 
wishing to supply himself with money might mort- 
gage his land to the government and receive bills 
to the amount of his mortgage. Upon the bills he 
was to pay five per cent interest, and the principal 
represented was to be met in ten years. Here evi- 
dently was a contrivance that exactly fitted the 
Rhode Island landowner's case. Such owner had 
plenty of land; this land he could convert into 
money by help of the government ; and when the 
day should arrive for converting the money back, 
he might get an extension of time. What the land- 
owner did not perceive was that the land in which 
he abounded had, by reason of lack of demand, 
little immediate or convertible value. When put 
in pledge to the colony, it was not an available 
treasury asset. Had it had convertible value, the 
owner could have sold it, or borrowed upon it upon 
easy terms in the open market, and the government 
need not have been involved. 

Between 1710 and 1751 there were nine several 
"banks" (as the loans upon land security were 
called) floated in Rhode Island ; and what these 
" banks " typified for the colony was distinctly a 
rake's progress. At first (1715) the "bank," like 
the bill of credit, was honestly resorted to as a 
means of meeting the cost incurred in Queen Anne's 
War. Next (1721, 1728, 1731, 1733, and 1738) it 
was resorted to as a means of postponing liquidation 



70 RHODE ISLAND 

and so of keeping the people satisfied ; although, 
to put a better face upon the operation, stress was 
laid on bounties, on the opportunely ruinous condi- 
tion of Fort Anne (afterwards Fort George) at the 
entrance to Newport Harbor, and on- the likewise 
opportunely ruinous condition of the Newport jail. 
By 1731, when the total amount of bills out- 
standing exceeded X120,000, uneasiness began to be 
shown. Depreciation had set in to such an extent 
that silver, which had been worth eight shillings 
an ounce, now rose to twenty. Besides, counter- 
feiting was becoming a vexatious grievance.^ But 
there was another cause for the gathering alarm. 
Khode Island was no longer wholly agricultural. 
At Newport mercantile interests were waxing 
strong. Accordingly, on the 25th of June, just after 
the General Assembly had decreed a " bank " of 
X60,000, Governor Joseph Jenckes, relying upon 
an order-in-council issued in 1720, requiring the 

1 Under date of February 17, 1729, John Comer makes note in 
his diary of *' a number of persons found in ye act of counter- 
feiting ye bills of credit of this colony," These persons had, as 
they expressed it, " unanimously joined in a League and Contract, 
to use our best endeavors in our respective places to make and 
put off without discovery a quantity of paper money." The 
" League " was concluded thus : " God save ye King, prosper our 
progress herein, and keep us from all traitors. . . . Then each 
and every one of us taking ye Bible in our hands swore by ye 
contents thereof, to observe these Articles of Agreement." It 
further appears from Comer's diary that on April 28, 1729, 
Nicholas Oatis, one of the " League," " stood in ye pillory and 
had his ears dipt for making money." — JB. I. Hist. Coll. vol. 



PAPER MONEY 71 

royal assent to acts for the emission of bills of 
credit, interposed a veto. A storm at once arose, 
and the governor, backed by such representative 
Newporters as Abraham Redwood, William Ellery, 
John Freebody, Nathaniel Kay, Daniel Ayrault, 
and others, appealed for justification to the king. 

The situation was one of interest. Never before 
had a Ehode Island governor presumed to try to 
checkmate the General Assembly. So to presume, 
indeed, was revolutionary of Rhode Island ideas — 
an attack upon the colony's individualistic demo- 
cracy. As it proved, the old principles were en- 
tirely safe. The king decided, first, that by the 
Rhode Island charter the governor himself was 
" a part of the Assembly," hence void of power 
against it ; and, second, that by the charter the 
crown even had no discretionary power of repeal- 
ing laws in Rhode Island. All laws enacted there 
were valid, save such as contravened the laws of 
England. 

The foregoing decision but served of course to 
encourage the supporters of the credit system, and 
under the regime of the Wantons and of Governor 
William Greene the launching of "banks" went 
merrily on in the years 1740 and 1744. These years 
were years of war, and as such afforded to the 
scheme of " banks " a better pretext, for now per- 
haps Fort George did require repairing, and of a 
certainty there were required both ships and men. 
Still depreciation was only accelerated ; nor could 



72 EHODE ISLAND 

it be brought to pause by the device of inscribing 
upon the bills their declared value in gold and 
silver. So serious had the depreciation become by 
1746 that the Assembly was forced to raise the 
qualification of voters from two hundred to four 
hundred pounds, in order to keep the franchise 
within anything like its original limits. 

All this was bad enough, but it was not the worst. 
In 1747 Parliament appropriated <£800,000 to re- 
imburse the colonies for their outlay in the expedi- 
tion against Louisburg, and Massachusetts with its 
proportion of the sum proceeded to redeem in part 
its outstanding paper. It at the same time passed 
an act prohibiting the circulation of the bills of 
the other colonies within its borders. Here was 
a further blow to Khode Island money, a blow 
fraught with bankruptcy for not a few. 

The strength of the landholding class around 
Narragansett Bay and the fatuous blindness there 
of nearly everybody else, excepting a few merchants 
at Newport, is illustrated by an elaborate defense 
of paper money addressed by Governor Richard 
Ward to the Lords of Trade on January 9, 1740. 
The governor confessed to bills outstanding in the 
aggregate of £340,000 ; but calling attention to the 
trade of the colony, which was represented by one 
hundred and twenty sail, drew the hardy inference 
that " if this colony be in any respect happy and 
flourishing, it is paper money and a right applica- 
tion of it that hath rendered us so." 



PAPER MONEY 73 

With 1750 Rhode Island in its financial " pro- 
gress " came to a turning point. In the month of 
August a " bank " of £50,000 was ordered by the 
lower house of the Assembly. Counterfeiting was 
made punishable with death, and the Assembly 
adjourned to reconvene in September. On Sep- 
tember 4 a petition bearing seventy-two signa- 
tures, signatures of substantial, intelligent men — 
of the Freebodys, the Ayraults, the Harrisons, the 
Redwoods, the Tillinghasts — was forwarded in 
desperation to the king. 

" The currency or instrument of commerce of a 
country [declared the petitioners] being the stand- 
ard and measure by which the worth of all things 
bought and sold are established and determined, 
it ought to be fixed invariably, otherwise property 
can neither be ascertained nor secured by any plan 
or method whatsoever." Five allegations were 
then categorically put forth : That the currency 
of Rhode Island had sunk in value " above one 
half in seven years ; " that the colony had now 
outstanding in bills <£525,335 ; that these bills 
" ought to be drawn in by a tax ; " that so far 
from levying such a tax the house of deputies 
had just passed a vote for £50,000 of further 
bills ; that of the bills outstanding £390,000 had 
been secured by mortgages upon land, and that a 
strong reason for the authorization by the depu- 
ties of the £50,000 more of similar bills was that, 
in the general plethora, landowners might be en- 



74 RHODE ISLAND 

abled to discharge their mortgages for a song. 
The petitioners humbly prayed that his Majesty 
would prevent the government of its colony of 
Rhode Island *' from emitting any more bills of 
credit upon loan " without his Majesty's permission. 

The prayer was effective. In 1751 Parliament 
passed an act forbidding all further "banks," 
and permitting the issue of bills of credit for but 
two objects, — current expenses of the colony and 
expenses arising from the exigencies of war. Bills 
for the first object might run two years, and for 
the second, five. Provision for redemption must 
be made at the time of issue ; there was to be no 
legal tender feature, and the royal approval was 
to be a sine qua non. 

By means of bills of the character indicated, 
Rhode Island was enabled, without serious strain, 
to meet its proportion of the cost of the expedi- 
tion projected in 1755 against Crown Point; and 
when, in 1756, there were received from England 
six chests of silver and one of gold as a partial 
reimbursement of outlay, the money was promptly 
used for redemption purposes. In 1763, at the 
end of the struggle for Canada, gold and silver 
coin were made by act of the Assembly the only 
lawful money in the colony. The recovery by 
Rhode Island of sanity upon the money question 
was remarkably swift; as swift almost as had 
been the recovery by Massachusetts of sanity upon 
the question of witchcraft. Moreover, throughout 



PAPER MONEY 75 

the war of the Revolution Rhode Island main- 
tained its good reputation. In 1776 it with great 
docility accepted the recommendation of a com- 
mittee of the New England States to emit no 
unnecessary bills of credit, but rather to levy 
taxes or borrow; and, in 1780, acting upon a 
resolution of the Continental Congress, it passed 
a measure so equitably adjusting between debtor 
and creditor the complexities growing out of 
Continental currency that its course was widely 
imitated. 

For the reformed commonwealth, as for the 
reformed individual, lo, the pitfalls and tempta- 
tions ! For Rhode Island the temptation now to 
be recorded was sore indeed. 

In launching its first "bank" the colony had 
been moved by a cry for money, a convenience, 
rather than by a cry for bread, a necessity. 
In 1786, when the tenth and last "bank" was 
launched, bread to an alarming extent was the 
object sought. 

In this situation what the enlightened part of 
the people desired to do was to grin and bear 
misfortune; what the unenlightened part desired 
to do was to secure immediate relief. In 1785 the 
General Assembly (still in the hands of the com- 
mercial class) rejected a petition for an emission 
of paper. In 1786 the General Assembly, now 
divided between the commercial class and their 



76 RHODE ISLAND 

opponents the agriculturalists, gave strong signs 
of regarding paper as not the worst of evils. New- 
port and Providence thereupon presented strong 
protests, and again the movement for paper 
received a check. But in 1786, at the spring 
election, the agriculturalists carried all before 
them, and an Assembly was elected pledged to 
paper as the only means of relief. 

The triumph of the agriculturalists on the 
money question was in reality the triumph (tem- 
porarily) of the old individualism over cooperation. 
It was a reactionary step, and, like most steps of 
the kind, culminated in extremes. The new As- 
sembly, on convening, passed an act for the 
launching of a " bank " — the familiar old bank 
of the years 1710 to 1750 — for X100,000. But 
the old bank was made fresh by a clever device. 
Should any creditor refuse to accept its bills in 
payment, the debtor might secure a discharge by 
depositing bills in the amount of his debt with 
one of the judges of the Superior Court or of the 
Court of Common Pleas. It nevertheless was part 
of the device that, upon the completion of the 
deposit, the judge must cite the creditor personally 
to appear within ten days to receive his money; 
and under this provision many and diverting were 
the incidents. The natural order of things (as in 
"Alice Through the Looking Glass ") was entirely 
reversed. Instead of debtors seeking to escape 
their creditors, creditors now were seeking franti- 



PAPER MONEY 77 

cally to escape their debtors. Haggard and har- 
assed, the pursued creditor found (we are told) 
asylum in his attic ; or perchance leaped headlong 
from a convenient window. 

But two months were required to demonstrate 
that existing measures would not prevent a de- 
preciation of the new bills. An act, therefore, was 
passed imposing a penalty of one hundred pounds 
upon any one who should refuse to accept them at 
their face value in exchange for commodities. This 
act made clear the wisdom of those who had coun- 
seled a policy of endurance rather than one of 
credit. Merchants closed their stores. People left 
the State. Food became scarcer than ever. Uncon- 
vinced still, and wrathful at opposition, the agricul- 
turalists got together in town meetings and farmers' 
conventions and arranged for a convention which 
should be representative of farmers throughout the 
State. By this body, to which sixteen towns sent 
delegates, it was advised that the paper money 
laws be " supported." And supported they were 
to the bitter end. 

At a special session of the General Assembly 
held in August, 1786, at Newport, there was created 
a court for the trial of complaints against creditors. 
The court consisted of not less than three judges 
drawn from the Superior Court or Court of Com- 
mon Pleas, and was to convene at any time upon 
three days' summons. There was to be no jury, 
decision was to be by majority vote, and from such 



78 RHODE ISLAND 

decision there was to be no appeal. The one-hun- 
dred pound penalty for refusing to give commodities 
for paper was reduced, but the reduction was largely 
offset by a provision that upon the conviction of a 
creditor sentence was to be put immediately into 
execution. Neither delay nor suspension was to be 
permitted. Against the above described sweeping 
attack by the legislature upon personal liberty, the 
commercial element, through the deputies from 
Newport, Providence, Bristol, Warren, and New 
Shoreham, made vigorous protest, but absolutely to 
no effect. It remained for a poor Newport butcher 
— a man so poor that within a month he had re- 
ceived town aid — to vindicate Magna Charta by 
precipitating one of the most memorable trials in 
American history. 

The butcher referred to was John Weeden. In 
September, 1786, he refused a piece of paper cur- 
rency tendered him by John Trevett in payment 
for a piece of meat. Trevett at once filed a com- 
plaint, and the case was heard before the judges 
of the Superior Court on September 25. The 
defendant was charged with a violation of the 
statute, and this charge he met by a threefold 
plea : first, that the statute had expired (a technical 
contention based on the ambiguous wording of the 
act); seco.nd, that the matter complained of had 
been made triable before a special court uncon- 
trolled by the supreme judiciary ; and third, that 
the statute was unconstitutional and void, because 



PAPER MONEY 79 

by it there was denied to the defendant a trial by 

Weeden's counsel were James M. Varnum of 
East Greenwich and Henry Marchant of Newport, 
men of the highest standing and best talent. Var- 
num addressed the court first, and in opening said : 
" Well may a profound silence mark the attention 
of this numerous and respectable assembly ! Well 
may anxiety be displayed in every countenance ! 
Well may the dignity of the bench condescend to 
our solicitude for a most candid and serious atten- 
tion, seeing that from the first settlement of this 
country until the present moment a question of 
such magnitude as that upon which the judgment 
of the court is now prayed hath not been judicially 
agitated ! " 

The first two points of the plea for the accused 
were dwelt upon briefly. The third — that of denial 
of trial by jury — was elaborated exhaustively and 
with deep feeling. It was Varnum' s contention that 
trial by one's peers (the mode of trial secured to 
every Englishman by Magna Charta) had been 
established in Ehode Island by the charter of the 
colony, which provided that the inhabitants " should 
have and enjoy all liberties ... of free and nat- 
ural subjects . . . as if they . . . were born 
within the realm of England." American independ- 
ence, it was averred, did not affect the matter, for 
the colony charter had been retained and was in 
force as the constitution of the State. With this 



80 KHODE ISLAND 

point settled there remained but one other. Who 
in a given case was to decide whether an in- 
habitant — a citizen — had been deprived of a 
chartered right? "Have the judges a power to 
repeal, to amend, to alter laws, or to make new 
laws ? " asked the advocate. " God forbid ! In that 
case they would become legislators." " But," he 
continued, "the judiciary have the sole power of 
judging of laws . . . and cannot admit any act of 
the legislature as law which is against the consti- 
tution." Here was the whole case for the accused, 
and it was a strong one. 

But strong on the constitutional point as Wee- 
den's case was, the point itself was hardly (as Var- 
num had claimed in his exordium) one never before 
" judicially agitated " in America. A single court 
prior to this time (the Supreme Court of New Jer- 
sey in 1779) had weighed the question of the com- 
petence of the judiciary to declare an act of the 
legislature void on constitutional grounds, and had 
found unanimously in favor of such competence.^ 

1 The New Jersey case was Holmes vs. Walton, 4 Halstead, 
N. J., 444. (See Am. Hist. Rev. vol. iv, p. 469.) Trevett vs. Weeden, 
although not decided upon constitutional grounds, is often quoted 
as if so decided. (See Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, 4th ed. 
p. 196 ; Bryce, The American Commonwealth (earlier editions), vol. 
i, p. 244 ; Arnold, History of Rhode Island, vol. ii, p. 525 ; McMas- 
ter, History of the People of the United States, vol. i, pp. 337-339 
(but see vol. v, p. 398) ; Fiske, The Critical Period of American 
History, p. 175; Channing, The United States of America, p. 119. 
The true ground of the decision (lack of jurisdiction) was stated 
in 1883 by Judge Thomas Durf ee of Rhode Island in his ' ' Glean- 



PAPER MONEY 81 

In Trevett vs. Weeden the Rhode Island judiciary 
waived the constitutional point, and, tacitly indors- 
ing the plea of the accused that the body charged 
with the trial of the offense was not the Superior 
Court, but one specially constituted, dismissed the 
complaint before it for lack of jurisdiction. 

ings from the Judicial History of Rhode Island " (Rider's Hist 
Tract No. 18, p. 52). It was also stated by Mr. S. S. Rider in 1889, 
in a review of Bryce's American Commonwealth {Book Notes, vol. 
vi, p. 41), and in 1902 by Mr. E. C. Stiness in his " Struggle for 
Judicial Supremacy in Rhode Island," contributed to Edward 
Eield's Rhode Island at the End of the Century, vol. iii). 

What makes the New Jersey and Rhode Island eases of sur- 
passing interest is a consideration of an historical nature. Until 
these decisions were made, it was an open question in America 
whether the courts (state and national) would, in gauging legis- 
lative power, follow English Parliamentary precedent, or the dicta 
of certain English judges. According to Parliamentary precedent, 
the legislature (Parliament) was an omnipotent body bound by no 
set of fundamental principles. According to the dicta of a few 
English judges, " the Common Law doth control Acts of Parlia- 
ment." Thus Lord Coke (the patron of Roger Williams) in Bon- 
ham's case (8 Rep. 114) and Chief Justice Hobart (Hobart's 
Reports) held that the common law was supreme over Parliament. 
In Trevett vs. Weeden, Varnum cited both Coke and Hobart, as 
also Plowden and Bacon's Abridgment (iv, 635), in support of his 
contention that the legislature was bound to regard constitutional 
limitations. Presumably similar citations were made in Holmes vs. 
Walton. The American courts, therefore, chose at the very out- 
set (1779 and 1786) to indorse the dicta of judges like Coke, 
Hobart, Plowden, and Bacon, in support of the common law 
(constitutional law) rather than to follow the strict precedent of 
English Parliamentary practice. On the whole subject the reader 
is referred to an admirable paper by J'udge Charles B. Elliott of 
Minneapolis, printed in the Political Science Quarterly for June^ 
1890. 



82 RHODE ISLAND 

At first the dismissal — construed as it was as a 
vindication of both Weeden and honest money — 
promised ill consequences. Rhode Island's individ- 
ualistic democracy was shocked profoundly ; more 
so than it had been at the attempted exercise by 
Governor Jenckes of the veto power. Was it then 
true, it was indignantly asked, that in Rhode Island 
the ruling element was no longer the people ? Were 
governors and judges to set themselves up against 
the General Assembly ? Not if the General Assem- 
bly rightly gauged its power. Paul Mumford, 
Joseph Hazard, Thomas Tillinghast, Gilbert Devol, 
and David Howell — the five judges who had heard 
the now famous case — were summoned promptly 
to appear before the Assembly and to assign the 
reasons of their judgment. The court (so the sum- 
mons recited) had declared an act of the supreme 
legislature unconstitutional and void, and such 
adjudication " tended to abolish the legislative au- 
thority." Howell, the youngest of the judges, but a 
Princeton graduate and the only trained lawyer 
of the court, explained that the act had not been 
declared unconstitutional. He at the same time 
proclaimed it the right of the bench to pass upon 
the constitutionality of any legislative act. At 
length the Assembly, counseled by the attorney- 
general (William Channing, father of William 
EUery Channing), brought itself to declare : " As 
the judges are not charged with any criminality 
in rendering the judgment upon the information 



PAPER MONEY 83 

Trevett vs. Weeden, they are discharged from any- 
further attendance upon this Assembly, on that 
account." 

At the spring election of 1788 Hazard, Tilling- 
hast, and Howell all failed of reelection ; but such 
evidences of spleen proved to be only the dying 
convulsions of the paper money party. By 1789 
(when the legal tender statute of 1786 was re- 
pealed) death had quite supervened; not, how- 
ever, before Rhode Island's reputation had been 
smirched ; nor before a Connecticut poet had sung 
in jeering distich, — 

" Hail realm of rogues, renowned for fraud and guile, 
All hail ye knaveries of yon little isle. 

The wiser race, the snares of law to shun, 
Like Lot from Sodom, from Rhode Island run." 



CHAPTER IV 

KHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 

Piracy and Bellomoiit — The "Wantons and Privateering — Colony- 
Sloop Tartar — The Spanish Main. 

If, down to 1759, the wars with France and Spain 
led in Khode Island to the manifold woes of paper 
money, these same wars, together with the great 
French war of 1756, led to other things as well. 
They led through privateering to the golden age 
of Newport. They led also, through the same 
means, to an American navy. 

It was in May, 1690, that Rhode Island waged 
its first fight upon the sea. A French privateer- 
ing fleet of seven small sail had captured Block 
Island. For a week the captors had rioted there, 
plundering and maltreating the inhabitants and 
threatening a descent upon Newport itself. In the 
emergency Captain Thomas Paine, a Newport 
seaman, manned two sloops with ninety men and 
sought the enemy. He soon fell in with five sail, 
and, running into shallow water to avoid being 
surrounded, gave battle against odds. The French 
captain bore down in melodramatic style, wishing 
himself "damned if he did not board immedi- 
ately," but was repulsed and after two hours of 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 85 

musketry combat withdrew. The day following, 
when Paine would have renewed the attack, his 
enemy put hastily to sea, scuttling a prize laden 
with wines to expedite his progress. 

The year 1690 was that of the beginning of 
King William's War, but it was by no means that 
of the beginning of Rhode Island's familiarity 
with privateering. As long ago as 1653 the island 
of Rhode Island had sent out vessels against the 
Dutch ; and since 1680 captains bearing question- 
able West India commissions had found the shores 
of Narragansett Bay not inhospitable. In fact, the 
redoubtable Paine was of this class, for in 1683, 
on arriving at Newport in command of a ship com- 
missioned from Jamaica, he had escaped arrest 
only by the timely interposition of Governor Wil- 
liam Coddington. 

The report as to Paine which the deputy col- 
lector at Boston sent to England may well have 
elicited the letter which in 1684 was dispatched by 
the king to Rhode Island, commanding the enact- 
ment of a law for the " suppressing of privateers 
and pirates." At all events such a law was passed. 
But law or no law, the business of privateering 
(now piracy) at Rhode Island was not lessened, 
and by the close of King William's War, in 1697, 
it was to attain proportions truly formidable. 

From 1690 to 1695 John Easton was governor 
at Newport. From 1696 to 1698 the governor was 
Walter Clarke. Both Easton and Clarke were 



86 RHODE ISLAND 

Quakers, and as such purposely inactive with re- 
gard to the war then in progress. But during the 
entire decade, 1690 to 1700, John Greene was dep- 
uty-governor. Upon him as emphatically a fight- 
ing man there devolved the task of prosecuting the 
conflict — a task which, as Khode Island did virtu- 
ally nothing on land, consisted mainly in commis- 
sioning privateers. Greene in some respects was a 
unique character. He was a strong Gortonist, and 
in that capacity had rendered important public 
service by withstanding Harris and the Atherton 
Company. But his Gortonism was avowedly Anti- 
nomian in the extreme. There was involved in it 
the doctrine that, provided a man were at one with 
God inwardly, it mattered not what his mere out- 
ward conduct might be ; " he might [if he chose] 
do what a beast might do." So, in commissioning 
privateers, Greene with tranquil " inwardness " 
took no bonds and kept few troublesome copies of 
papers. The fact that these privateers in many 
instances turned out piratical craft is something 
which may or may not have been anticipated. 

Nathaniel Coddington, register of the local Court 
of Admiralty, charges Deputy-Governor Greene 
with having commissioned thirty privateers during 
the year 1694. Among them was a barque com- 
manded by John Bankes and a brigantine com- 
manded by William Mayes. Apropos of Mayes, the 
Lords of Trade advised the Governor and Company 
of Ehode Island in 1697 that it was reported that 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 87 

their colony was " a place where pirates were or- 
dinarily too kindly entertained ; " and it is true 
that in 1699 the return of Mayes from the Red 
Sea " with vast wealth " was eagerly awaited. But 
Bankes is of more interest to us than Mayes, for 
he had as a partner or companion the famous 
Rhode Islander, Thomas Tew. 

The vessels of Bankes and Tew — the latter ves- 
sel a large sloop with accommodations for eighty 
men — lay side by side at Newport, and the strife 
to fill a berth in either was intense. Says Cod- 
dington : " Men come from all the country round ; 
servants left their masters and sons their parents ; 
many hid themselves on board ; it may be with a 
grief e spoken the endeavors some men made to send 
away the youth of the land." " Of these men," 
Coddington continues, " our good governor [Easton] 
laboured to hinder the wicked designs." And again : 
" All the vessels had great guns mounted ; no cost 
was spared for small arms and powder. . . . The 
discourse was generally that they were bound to 
Madagascar, but some [thought] they were to go 
to the Red Sea ^ where the money was as plenty as 

1 *' We [a band of English pirates] came early in 1696 to Lipa- 
ran Island at the mouth o£ the Red Sea, where three more sail 
of English came to us, one commanded by Thomas Wake, an- 
other, the Pearl, William Mues [Mayes] commander, fitted out at 
Rhode Island, the Amity, Thomas Tew commander. . . . They 
all joined partnership, putting- Captain Every [Avery] in com- 
mand. . . . After five or six days the Moors' ships, twenty-five 
in number, passed them in the night ; but hearing of this from a 



88 RHODE ISLAND 

stones and sand, saying the people there were infi- 
dels, and it was no sin to kill them." Bankes got 
away in due form by Greene's connivance ; but 
Tew made the mistake of applying for a commis- 
sion to Easton, and the further mistake of offering 
the governor a douceMr of X500. He did not get 
his commission, so put to sea without a clearance. 
He joined forces with the noted pirate Mission ; 
established a colony in Madagascar; resisted the 
Portuguese ; amassed an immense fortune ; and 
returning to Newport paid the owners of the vessel 
in which he had sailed fourteen times the cost of 
their adventure. 

One day a pirate more desperate even than Tew 
appeared — Joseph Bradish. In 1698 Bradish was 
boatswain's mate on board the ship Adventure, 

captured ketch they resolved to follow them. . . . Steering- for 
Surat we caught up one of the ships which we took after she had 
fired three shots, she had £50,000 or £60,000 on board in silver 
and g-old. We shortly afterwards spied another ship, mounting 
forty guns and carrying (as was said) 800 men. She stood a fight 
of three hours and yielded." 

'* We kept possession of both ships, and all the crew, except 
one man, boarded her by turns, taking only provisions, necessa- 
ries, and treasure, which was very great, but little in comparison 
with what was on board ; for though they put several to the tor- 
ture they would not confess where the rest of their treasure lay. 
They took great quantities of jewels, and a saddle and bridle set 
with rubies designed as a present for the Great Mogul. Several 
of the Indian women on board were, by their habits and jewels, 
of better quality than the rest." [Report by the secretary of the 
East India Company to the Lords of Trade concerning acts of 
piracy committed in the Indian seas in the spring of 1696.—' 
British State Papers — America and West Indies — 1696, 1697,1 



KHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 89 

bound from London to Borneo. Winning twenty 
men to his design, he awaited his chance, seized 
the vessel, put ashore part of the crew on a desert 
spot to starve, and made all sail for Block Island 
— that same Block Island which in 1690 had been 
so gallantly rescued from piratical hands by Cap- 
tain Paine. But in the estimation of the Block 
Islanders there evidently were pirates and pirates. 
One kind came (as had come the French) to plun- 
der and lay waste ; another kind — the Bradish 
kind — came to find shelter and to divide spoil. 
The latter were welcome. Capture, however, over- 
took Bradish, and he was lodged in jail in Boston. 
He soon contrived to escape, and with fine discrim- 
ination as to places fled back to Ehode Island. 

Throughout the period covered by King Wil- 
liam's War and the deputy-governorship of Grreene 
it was well-nigh impossible in Rhode Island to 
secure the apprehension, the detention, or the con- 
viction of any person for piracy. Pirates resorted 
there, spent their money there, even married there. 
Arrests, it is true, were sometimes made, as in the 
case of Robert Munday and George Cutler of the 
Henry Avery crew, who were unable to account for 
money and East India goods in their possession ; 
but escape by connivance of jailers was more cer- 
tain than arrest, and when it was sought to indict 
the jailers grand juries were wont to indorse " ig- 
noramus " upon the bills. Indeed, by 1699 so per- 
fect a haven for freebooters had Narragansett Bay 



90 RHODE ISLAND 

become that certain of the associates of the never- 
to-be-forgotten William Kidd were making it their 
asylum. Among them was the murderous James 
Gillam. Also among them was our own worthy 
Captain Thomas Paine, soon to be enrolled a 
founder of Trinity Church, Newport. To him, in 
his unobtrusive abode on the island of Conanicut, 
Kidd from his jail in Boston sent a messenger for 
gold ; and by him the aforesaid messenger was in- 
trusted with " seven bars." 

But the day of reckoning was at hand. Seriously 
aroused by complaints and threats from the Great 
Mogul of India, the English government had re- 
solved to suppress piracy. In March, 1697, the 
Earl of Bellomont was appointed governor of 
New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, 
with powers of captain-general over Rhode Island 
and Connecticut. Shortly afterwards Peleg San- 
ford was appointed judge of admiralty for Rhode 
Island. In 1653, during the war with Holland, 
the island of Rhode Island had established an 
Admiralty Court ; and in 1694 the colony, as a 
convenience for condemning prizes, had (until the 
king's pleasure should be further known) revived 
the institution. When Peleg Sanford presented 
his commission as admiralty judge by royal ap- 
pointment, judicial offices conflicted. The gov- 
ernor, Walter Clarke, solved the point for the 
present by taking the Sanford commission and 
keeping it. 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 91 

In May, 1698, Clarke was succeeded as governor 
by his nephew, Samuel Cranston, and soon Ed- 
ward Randolph, surveyor-general of his Majesty's 
customs in America, visited Rhode Island. There 
followed a series of stinging dispatches to Cran- 
ston from the Lords of Trade demanding sight 
of the commissions and bonds (mostly non-exist- 
ent) under which privateers had been sent out by 
Deputy-Governor John Greene, and notifying the 
governor of the deputing of Lord Bellomont as 
a special agent of the crown to inquire into the 
local " disorders and irregularities." 

Bellomont's inquiry was conducted by himself at 
Newport in September, 1699, and when concluded 
an elaborate report of it was sent to the Lords 
of Trade. The report was scathing. It declared 
that the colony usurped and exercised admiralty 
power contrary to the charter ; that the prosecut- 
ing attorney was " a poor, illiterate mechanic ; " 
that John Greene, the deputy-governor, was "a 
brutish man of very corrupt or no principles in 
religion ; " that his commissions to privateers 
were made out " to the captain or his assignees," 
hence to anybody and everybody ; and finally, 
that " the government was notoriously faulty in 
countenancing and harboring of pirates who had 
openly brought in and disposed of their effects, 
whereby the place had been greatly enriched." 
Cranston, meanwhile (awakened to the peril in 
which the colony stood), was eating exceedingly 



92 RHODE ISLAND 

humble pie before both the Lords of Trade and 
Bellomont, — " begging a favorable construction 
in what of weakness may appear in us, we being 
a plain and mean sort of people ; " or, as he fur- 
ther expresses it, " an ignorant and contemptible 
people." 

Before Bellomont's report could be acted upon, 
its author died at New York and Joseph Dudley- 
was appointed governor of Massachusetts. This 
appointment was made in 1701. It carried with 
it, as in the case of Phips and Bellomont, power 
over the Rhode Island militia, and there was soon 
annexed a power of vice-admiralty. 

Dudley, in 1705, revived against Ehode Island 
Bellomont's charges. But now, with war begun, 
the disposition of the home government to be criti- 
cal of the maritime ethics of its privateering colony 
was perceptibly lessened. Nor should it be over- 
looked that at this juncture the London agent of 
Rhode Island was the accomplished William Penn, 
nor that Penn's relations with Queen Anne were 
those of a trusted courtier. 

Clear as the culpability of Rhode Island is with 
respect to piracy, one fact should be emphasized : 
no governor of the colony was ever actually caught 
trafficking in official favors. Even Deputy-Gov- 
ernor John Greene — whose explanation to Bello- 
mont of the negotiable and unbonded commissions 
issued by him to Mayes, Bankes, and the others, 
was that the recipients were good home folk, hence 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 93 

presumably sans reproche as they certainly were 
sans peur — probably gained little by his malle- 
ability. In the early eighteenth century piracy was 
rife all along the Atlantic coast, and Khode Island 
sustained to it relations less odious than did New 
York or the Carolinas.^ 

1 Extracts from the official correspondence of Lord Bello- 
mont and of Governor Benjamin Fletcher : — 

" I find that those Pyrates that have given the greatest disturb- 
ance in the East Lidies and Red Sea, have been either fitted from 
New York or Rhode Island, and mann'd from New York. ... 
And Capt° Tew that had been before a most notorious Pirate 
(complained of by the East India Company) on his returne from 
the Indies with great riches made a visit to New York, where 
(although a man of most mean and infamous character) he was 
received and caressed by Coll : Fletcher, and they exchanged pre- 
sents, as gold watches ettc, with one another," etc. [New York, 
May 8, 1698, Bellomont to the Lords of Trade. N. Y. Col. Docs. 
vol. iv, p. 306.] 

" I am informed by Mr Randolph, Surveyor General of the 
Customs, that R. I. pretends to a Jurisdiction of a Court of Ad- 
miralty, and that they have seized a pirate there with his money 
and designe to try him and perhaps acquitt him. I know not yet 
what priviledge they have by their Charter, but I am well in- 
formed what constant encouragement they give to Pirates to come 
in there, and bring in their spoils, and likewise what connivance 
is made to the breach of all the Acts of Trade, and from thence 
it may be concluded that there will be but very faint prosecu- 
tions in a Court of Admty of their owne enacting," etc. [New 
York, July 1, 1698, Bellomont to the Lords of Trade. N. Y. Col. 
Docs. vol. iv, p. 334.] 

" We are very sensible of what your Lordship writes about 
the partiality and favour to pirates in R. I." [Oct. 25, 1698, 
Lords of Trade to Bellomont. N. Y. Col. Docs. vol. iv, p. 
414] 

"Capt Tew hadformaly ree'd a commsn from the Govr of 



94 RHODE ISLAND 

With the passing of the peril from Bellomont 
and Dudley, Rhode Island for the most part set- 
Bermuda [so] I granted him a third to make warr upon the 
French," etc. 

" This Tew appeared to me not only a man of courage and ac- 
tivity, but of the greatest sence and remembrance of what he had 
seen, of any seaman I had mett. He was allso what they call a 
very pleasnt man, so that at some times when the labours of ray 
day were over it was some divertisment as well as information to 
me, to heare him talke. I wish'd in my mind to make him a 
sober man, and in particular to reclaime him from a vile habit of 
swearing. I gave him a booke to that purpose ; and to gain the 
more upon him a gvinn of some value. In returne hereof he made 
me also a present which was a curiosity and in value not m.uch ; 
and this is the sum of all the kindness I am chged with," etc, 
[Dec. 24, 1698, Col. Benj. Fletcher's answer to charges. N. Y. 
Col. Docs. vol. iv, p. 446.] 

" Preparations [have] some while [been] mak'g of sending a 
squadron of ships of Warr to suppress them [the pirates] there 
[at Madagascar] and at Sta Maria." [Jan. 5, 1698-99, Lords of 
Trade to Bellomont. N. Y. Col. Docs. vol. iv, p. 454.] 

" Jos. Bradish born at Cambridge near Boston. Ran away with 
ship Adventure an interloper to East Indies. Came to East end 
of Nassau Isl [Long Island] & sunk the ship between that & 
Block Isl — a ship of abt 400 tons. B. left money with Lt Col. 
Peirson £942,19,3 — gave govr of R. I. notice where the money 
concealed, which I heare he has since secured. Block Isl being in 
his government. Some of the men who ran away with the ship 
went out with Tew." [New York, May 3, 1699, BeUomont to 
Lords of Trade. N. Y. Col. Docs. vol. iv, p. 512.] 

" I send you the speech of Mr Cranston Gov of R. I. to the As- 
sembly there about a fortnight since, wich you may please show 
to the Lds of Trade as a specimen of the Temper of the people. 
'Tis an original for Insolence and Nonsense. I do not mention it 
in any of my letters to their Ldships, etc. But that I know that 
Govmt and People to be the most piraticall in the Kings Domin- 
ions." [Boston, Sept. 15, 1699, Bellomont to Sec. Popple. N. Y. 
Col. Docs. vol. iv, p. 586.] 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 95 

tied down to the practice of legitimate privateer- 
ing : hencef ortli pirates, when caught, were hanged. 
In Queen Anne's War the most distinguished 
privateersmen were the Newport Wantons. The 
founder of this family was Edward Wanton, a 
Massachusetts man converted to Quakerism by 
sight of the stark bodies of Quakers dangling on 
Boston Common. Two of Edward's sons, William 
and John, removed to Newport and established 
themselves in ship-building. They were hardy and 
resourceful, with a natural aptitude for the sea, 
and just before the Peace of Ryswick, which ended 
King William's War, performed with a volunteer 
crew the daring feat of getting alongside a twenty- 
gun French privateer which had been harrying the 
coast and boarding and capturing her. For this 
service, and for the capture (in 1702) of three 
armed French vessels in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 
the brothers were summoned to England and 
made the recipients of flattering attention by the 
court. 

The Wantons were valiant, yet in the family 
character there evidently lurked something of the 
spirit of mischievous perversity. It was brother 

" I formerly acquainted your Ldships that Nassaw Isl alias 
Long- Isl was become a great Receptacle for Pirates ; I am since 
more confirm' d that 'tis so. Gillam a notorious pirate was suffered 
to escape thither from R. I. and tis believed he is still there. . . . 
I take that Isl especially the East End of it to exceed R. I." 
[Oct. 20, 1699, Bellomont to Lords of Trade. JSf. Y. Col. Docs, 
vol. iv, p. 591. ] 



96 RHODE ISLAND 

John, magistrate, that in 1719 arbitrarily impris- 
oned Nathaniel Kay, the king's collector, in the 
royal custom-house. It was brother John, deputy- 
governor, that in 1731 reconvened the General 
Assembly to discuss Governor Jenckes's veto of 
the paper money bill after the governor himself 
had declined to act. Ultimately the unpredictable 
John — following his father's example — turned 
Quaker ; but not a whit the less for that did he 
continue a fighting servant of the crown. As gov- 
ernor from 1734 to 1740 he issued commissions to 
privateers, with a chuckle at the scandal thus 
created. Admonition he met with the dry remark, 
that " in all concerns he had listened to the still 
smaU voice of divine emanation, and been obedient 
thereto." 

Queen Anne's War was brought to a close in 
1713 with the signing of the Peace of Utrecht. 
In 1714 the queen herself died. The next year 
she was followed to the grave by the great Louis, 
her own long-time enemy and the ancient enemy 
of King William and of Marlborough. Until 1739 
there was unwonted repose among the nations. 
Then, under George II, there broke forth against 
Spain the War of Jenkins' Ear. In 1744 France 
went to the aid of Spain. Thereupon the conflict 
became known as the War of the Austrian Suc- 
cession, or King George's War, and the Rhode 
Island privateers, which meanwhile had been do- 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 97 

ing service merely as trading craft, renewed their 
armaments and put to sea. But as this war in a 
naval way had an important official as well as 
privateering phase, it will be well to consider the 
official phase of it first. 

It is an interesting circumstance that the first 
lord of the admiralty under the Walpole govern- 
ment — the government responsible for the Span- 
ish War — was Sir Charles Wager, for as a lad 
Wager had lived in Newport with John Hull. 
While with Hull the youth had shown such re- 
markable talent for the sea that he had been taken 
into the royal navy. Here he had risen through 
the grades of captain and of rear- and vice-admiral. 
In 1718 he had passed into civil office as a lord of 
the admiralty. In 1733 he had been made first 
lord, — a position which he held at the outbreak of 
the hostilities now under review. Sir Charles was 
much regarded by Rhode Islanders. His brilliant 
career served to fire their seafaring natures with 
restless zeal against both Spain and France. 

The chief naval provision now (1740) made by 
the colony was the construction of the Tartar, a 
twenty-six gun sloop capable of berthing a hun- 
dred men. This vessel, sometimes alone and at 
other times in company with the Connecticut col- 
ony sloop Defence, patrolled the coasts from Long 
Island to Martha's Vineyard and effected a num- 
ber of captures. The Tartar served as convoy in 
the fruitless Cuban expedition of 1741, but its 



98 RHODE ISLAND 

principal service was performed in 1745, under 
Captain Daniel Tones, against Louisburg. 

Rhode Island was of the opinion that the Louis- 
burg expedition — the project of Governor Wil- 
liam Shirley of Massachusetts — was a piece of 
reckless folly. As Governor Gideon Wanton said, 
" The scheme [which was carried by but a single 
vote at Boston] supposed the concurrence of many 
accidents, the consequences of any one of which 
failing would be fatal ; the pretense to surprise 
such a town at such a distance with such a fleet 
and army appear'd to us ... a most vain expec- 
tation. ... As there was not to be one experi- 
enced officer or soldier . . . nor one engineer in 
the whole army, we could not avoid reflecting on 
the fatal miscarriages at Augustine and Cartha- 
gena." Shirley had a faith which Rhode Island 
lacked, and the following thrust by him in a letter 
to Governor William Greene is not wanting in 
keenness : " I must acknowledge. Sir, when I con- 
sidered what frequent and very large emissions of 
paper bills of credit your assembly has of late 
made for the conveniency of the inhabitants of 
your colony, ... I could not entertain the least 
doubt but that it would have made one emission 
for his majesty's service." 

Although somewhat retarded by convoy duty, 
the Tartar reached Louisburg on April 25, 1745. 
On the way the sloop had fallen in with his Cath- 
olic Majesty's ship Renommee of thirty-six guns, 



KHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 99 

bringing dispatches from France, and Tones had 
been compelled to run the gauntlet of four broad- 
sides in order to avoid capture. In June the plucky 
captain was sent with the Tartar and two consorts 
to intercept a body of French and Indians which, 
to the number of some twelve hundred, were 
approaching in a fleet of sloops, schooners, and 
canoes to the relief of the fortress. He met his 
enemy in Femme Goose Bay and beat them pre- 
cipitately back. 

The next year (1746) the Tartar was held in 
readiness to convoy Rhode Island's quota in the 
third great expedition planned by the colonies 
against Canada ; but to such a design the French, 
by a dramatic and wholly unforeseen movement, 
put an end. 

On the 6th of September, the Kinsale, one of 
Vice-Admiral Townsend's fleet off Louisburg, 
brought into port a prize — La Judith. The mas- 
ter, Antony Rodinguez, stated that on the 22d of 
June he had left Rochelle in company with a fleet 
of seventy sail, men-of-war and transports; that 
the former consisted of fourteen ships of the line 
of from fifty to seventy-four guns each ; that the 
transports carried eight thousand troops ; and that 
the entire force was under the command of the Due 
d'Anville. The news was at once forwarded to 
Governor Shirley, and by him in turn, on Septem- 
ber 22, to Governor William Greene at Newport. 
Shirley's message was accompanied by a declaration 



100 RHODE ISLAND 

by Kene Het (a merchant of New York) that it 
had been learned from the captain of a French 
prize that Admiral Conflans, while at Petit Gouave 
in Hispaniola, had taken from a fleet of merchant- 
men under convoy by him all the masters and pilots 
acquainted with North American waters, and that, 
putting others in their room, he had sailed away. 
What the two statements — Rodinguez's and Het's 
— meant was that D ' Anville and Conflans were to 
rendezvous somewhere to the north, and, united, to 
make a descent upon Louisburg. 

In the midst of the excitement resulting from 
this disclosure Fones and the Tartar were sent out, 
at the request of Governor Shirley, to meet if pos- 
sible Admiral Lestock, who was daily expected at 
Louisburg from Spithead with a body of troops, 
and to warn him of D'Anville's approach. Orders 
were that until October 25 Fones was to cruise 
to the southward of Nova Scotia with sealed dis- 
patches for the admiral. If the Tartar should be 
taken by the French, Fones was to destroy his dis- 
patches, " by no means suffering them to fall into 
the enemy's hands." But the plans of French and 
English alike came all to naught. As it chanced, 
Conflans had reached Halifax (the stipulated ren- 
dezvous) early in September. Not finding D'An- 
ville, he had sailed for home. A terrible gale had 
arisen and the fleet of D'Anville had been badly 
shattered. To complicate things still more, D'An- 
ville had been stricken down with apoplexy and 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 101 

had died. His second in command, D'Estournel, 
overcome with horror at the situation, had literally 
fallen upon his sword, and the third officer, La 
Jonquiere, had conducted the fleet, battered and 
pestilence ridden, back to France. The Tartar, 
meanwhile, sought in vain for Lestock ; that officer 
was yet upon the English coast. 

In 1748, upon the conclusion of peace at Aix, the 
Tartar — the Old Ironsides of Rhode Island — 
was put up at auction (that melancholy limbo of 
so much that is historic) and sold to the highest 
bidder. 

The privateering phase of King George's "War 
was brilliant in the extreme. After twenty-six years 
of quiet the king had authorized Rhode Island to 
issue letters of marque and reprisal. The streets of 
Newport, therefore, were thronged with seamen in 
quest of adventures and prize money. Shirley com- 
plained roundly that the Boston sailors all fled to 
Newport to avoid impressment for Cape Breton, 
and the complaint was in great part just. Rhode 
Island, too, was highly cautious about restrain- 
ing the practice, for privateering was a principal 
source of wealth to its people. The Malbones, the 
Browns, the Wantons, the Ayraults, the Freebodys 
— Newport merchants who had gained wealth in 
the West India trade — converted their fast sailing 
ships into armed cruisers, or built ships especially 
for cruising, and sent them out (brigantines and 



102 KHODE ISLAND 

brigs), a dozen or fifteen in a year, to prey upon 
Spanish and French commerce. 

There were the Triton, the Victory, the Defiance, 
the Caesar, the Mary, the King George, the Young 
Godfrey, the Prince Frederic, the Prince Charles 
of Lorraine, and a host more. Each had its own 
favorite ground of operations. Silently, beautifully, 
yet withal grimly, they dropped one by one out of 
the harbor : some for the shrouding fogs of the 
Newfoundland Banks; some for the straits and 
channels of the Leeward Islands ; some for Mada- 
gascar and the Red Sea. If to watch the departure 
was interesting, it was thrilling to watch the re- 
turn. Within hulls scarred in fight and beaten by 
weather there lurked one knew not what treasures 
of silks or " Kirman " wool, of gold, wines, or ivory. 
In 1746, 22,500 pieces-of-eight were brought back 
by the Defiance — John Dennis, captain. As early 
as 1744, wealth had been garnered by the Prince 
Charles under Captain Simeon Potter. In the lat- 
ter case it took the form to some extent of sacred 
plate rifled from churches along the Spanish Main. 
The tale of the despoiling of one of these churches 
— that of Oyapoc — has been told by a Jesuit mis- 
sionary, Father Fauque, in a letter to his superior. 
The good priest (he was of exceptional charity) 
finds excuse for the avariciousness of his Yankee 
enemy in the fact that " Rodelon [as he calls 
Rhode Island] was a kind of little republic which 
did not pay tribute to the King of England, which 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 103 

elected its governor every year and whicli had not 
even any silver money hut only notes for daily 
commerced 

Sometimes privateers went forth and did not 
return. In 1745, on the day before Christmas, 
there sailed from Newport for the Spanish Main 
two large vessels owned in part by Godfrey Mal- 
bone and manned by four hundred men. They 
were met by a fierce " northeaster " accompanied 
by snow, were never heard of afterwards, and 
nearly two hundred Newport women were left dis- 
consolate. Then there often was stiff resistance to 
be encountered. Captain John Dennis was the 
chief hero in such affairs. In January, 1746, he, 
while cruising in the West Indies with the Defi- 
ance, came up with a French ship of twenty guns, 
attended by two lesser craft. He boarded the ship, 
losing fifteen killed and fifteen wounded in the 
operation, but was rewarded with five hundred 
hogsheads of sugar and fifty-seven of indigo. It 
was Dennis who, at this period, got the Rhode 
Island government into trouble with the governor 
of Havana by carrying to Newport and selling into 
slavery (because of their mulatto complexions) 
twenty -two free Spaniards. In retaliation the 
Spanish governor, securing one of Dennis's prize 
crews, shut them up; treating them, as they in- 
dignantly wrote, with more brutality than any 
slaves. An exchange was soon happily effected. 
The deeply insulted freemen of Spain were bought 



104 RHODE ISLAND 

back from their Yankee subjection by the owners 
of the Defiance and of the Duke of Marlboro' (a 
privateer involved with the Defiance), and sent to 
Cuba in a flag of truce. 

Dennis's crowning exploit was performed in 
1747 near the island of Martinique. His name 
had become a terror to French traders, and the offi- 
cials at Fort de France sent out a vessel of four- 
teen guns and one hundred and forty men to make 
an end of him. After a four hours' conflict, in 
which Dennis himself was slightly wounded, he 
took his would-be captor captive and sailed with 
her proudly to St. Kitts. 

Ehode Island, after the Bellomont and Dudley 
period, was guilty of little that could be called 
piracy. Nevertheless that ingrained spirit of in- 
dividualism which showed itself on land in the 
policy (persistently maintained) of an irredeema- 
ble paper currency, and of which the colony's 
marked freebooting tendencies may also be con- 
sidered an indication, was not easily tamed. Dur- 
ing King George's War, flags of truce (vessels 
bearing to the French islands French prisoners to 
be exchanged for English ones) were systemat- 
ically made use of to carry not alone prisoners 
but provisions, thus giving direct aid and comfort 
to the enemy. In 1748, no less than twenty such 
fraudulent " flags " left Newport. Colonel Eobert 
Rogers, the celebrated scout of the French and 
Indian wars, boldly declares that the Ehode 



RHODE ISLAND AND THE SEA 105 

Islanders would divide a company of prisoners 
among a whole fleet of flags of truce, and then 
with official connivance send to the enemy arti- 
cles more welcome than all the prisoners, or than 
would have been the ship and cargo originally 
taken. 

In the war with France that began in 1754 
(technically 1756) — the Old French, or Seven 
Years, War — Ehode Island did nothing at sea as 
a colony. On land its quotas were kept well filled, 
and at Lake George, Fort William Henry, Ticon- 
deroga, and Fort Frontenac (as also in 1762 at 
Havana) it gave a good account of itself. But 
while at this juncture putting in commission no 
Tartar, the colony, besides furnishing seamen to 
the royal navy, commissioned over sixty privateers 
carrying fifteen hundred men, and repeated the 
triumphs of former years. Now, though, by reason 
of the growth of commerce, the losses in merchant- 
men were heavy. Providence (which since 1740 
had come rapidly forward) lost nearly fifty vessels, 
and Newport more than one hundred. Possibly the 
greatest loss of all was not that of any merchant- 
men but of the privateer Foy with bold John Den- 
nis in command. Whether this loss was by tempest 
or by the enemy was never known. Neither ship 
nor commander was heard of after August, 1756. 
In the war of the Revolution William Dennis, a 
son of John, commanded successively thirteen pri- 
vateers. Stronger proof there could not well be 



106 RHODE ISLAND 

that the wonderful privateering of Rhode Island 
led (among other things) to an American navy, 
— to a Talbot, to a Whipple, to a Hopkins, to the 
Decaturs, and to the Perrys. 



CHAPTER V 

THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 
(Commerce) 

Sugar and Molasses — The Slave Trade — Merchant Magnates 
— Slaveholding — The Jews as Merchants. 

A MOKE immediate result of the sea power of 
Khode Island was the rise into commercial, social, 
and intellectual importance of the town of New- 
port. 

By 1675 the exportation from Ehode Island 
(from Newport especially) of lumber, horses, pork, 
butter, and cheese had become considerable. At 
Barbadoes and Nevis these commodities were ex- 
changed for sugar and molasses ; and in sugar and 
molasses the future of Newport became bound up. 
That is to say, the future of this mart became thus 
bound up for all of the seventeenth century and 
for a part of the eighteenth. With the waxing 
of the eighteenth century the slave trade arose, 
and thereupon Newport's future became bound up 
with it. 

By means of the reports of the colony governors 
to the Lords of Trade the evolution of the island 
of Rhode Island from the agricultural stage into 



108 RHODE ISLAND 

the commercial may be readily traced. In a report 
made by Peleg Sanford in 1680 we are told that 
there were then in the colony no merchants nor 
" men of considerable estates ; " that there was 
" no shippinge " save a few sloops ; and that no 
customs duties were imposed. Twenty-eight years 
later the story is quite a different one. In 1708, 
Governor Samuel Cranston made report that the 
colony within a decade had built one hundred and 
three vessels. Of these it possessed twenty-nine 
itself, and by means of them a brisk trade was car- 
ried on with Jamaica, Barbadoes, and Nevis ; with 
the Bermudas and the Bahamas ; with Madeira and 
Cura9oa ; and with the American settlements from 
Massachusetts to South Carolina. The articles im- 
ported were sugar, molasses, cotton, indigo, wool- 
ens, linens, salt, rum, wines, cocoa, rigging, and 
iron. A naval officer had been regularly appointed 
by the governor since 1681. At the date of the 
Cranston report the population of the colony was 
7181. Newport led with 2203, of whom 220 were 
negroes ; Providence came next with 1446, of whom 
seven were negroes ; and third came Kingstown 
(the Narragansett country) with 1200, of whom 
the negroes were 85. 

As regards Newport, the most significant state- 
ment by Cranston is that now for a considerable 
period the land of the island had all been " taken 
up and improved in small farms," a condition 
which had compelled later generations to betake 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 109 

themselves to the sea. It was from this cause that 
ship-building had been developed. From this cause, 
too, there were beginning to appear those "mer- 
chants," those " men of considerable estates " the 
lack of whom in 1680 was dolefully recorded by 
Peleg Sanford. The sugar and molasses which 
ever since 1660 had been coming into Newport 
were distilled there into New England rum, and 
this article (together with candles made from tallow 
or oil substances) found a market throughout the 
West Indies. By 1731, when Governor Joseph 
Jenckes made his report to the Lords of Trade, 
it is evident that sugar and molasses on the one 
hand, and rum on the other, were the staples of 
Newport, and so of Khode Island, prosperity. 

Newport consisted now of four hundred houses. 
It had passed beyond the time (1707) when, as 
the town records inform us, the streets were at the 
mercy of filth precipitated from stables and sinks to 
" ye spoyling and damnifying of peoples Apparill." 
In 1731 the centre of life was "the parade" 
(Washington Square), at the head of which stood 
the Colony House. Into the parade Thames Street 
opened, and from it there projected westwardly 
into the old town cove a wharf — Long Wharf. 
The principal dwellings were about the parade and 
on Thames Street. Along the wharves were ware- 
houses and sailors' boarding-houses, together with 
the shops of venders of anchors and cordage and 
of sail-makers, caulkers, and shipwrights. Long 



110 RHODE ISLAND 

Wharf was largely the scene of the activities of 
Newport's four hundred seamen. From this station 
there passed out to sea the colony's ten or twelve 
sail that each year visited Surinam, St. Eustatia, 
and St. Thomas ; and the one or two that ranged 
as far as Genoa, Leghorn, Holland, or the British 
Isles. At this station there were unloaded the 
duck, cordage, broadcloths, serges, hoUands, thread, 
laces, needles, pins, tape, scythes, and iron-ware 
brought in coasters from Boston. 

The prosperity thus indicated, and a like pros- 
perity indicated by the crowded wharves of Boston 
— all based on sugar and molasses — was by no 
means relished by the English sugar planters of 
the West Indies — of Jamaica, Barbadoes, An- 
tigua, and Nevis. These planters were desirous of 
exclusively supplying the northern colonial mar- 
ket ; and when they found themselves (as in 1731 
they constantly did) anticipated by the Dutch of 
Surinam and St. Eustatia, they complained loudly 
to the Lords of Trade. By the latter, in 1731, 
steps began to be taken toward the imposition of 
a sugar duty. The agent for Khode Island in 
London was Richard Partridge (a successor to 
William Penn and, like him, a Quaker), and, be- 
tween 1731 and 1733, he did what he could by 
representation and petition to defeat the projected 
measure. It was, he pointed out, the profits of the 
trade in sugar and molasses that enabled Rhode 
Island merchants to purchase English manufac- 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 111 

tured goods. All, however, was to no avail, and in 
1733 a law went into effect imposing 9d. per gallon 
on rum and 5s. per hundredweight on sugar. This 
law was continued without modification down to 
1764. 

It was while the Sugar Act was pending that 
Governor Jenckes submitted his query regarding 
the veto power (if any) which pertained to his 
office, and Partridge was highly concerned lest the 
query should complicate Rhode Island's position 
toward the act. But when at length the act was 
about to pass, the agent — a man evidently of con- 
viction as well as of circumspection — prophetically 
wrote : " I am of opinion if such a Law take place 
(besides the present Injury it will do), it will be 
rather worse in the consequence of it than the Bill 
of prohibition last year, because of the levying a 
subsidy upon a Free People without their know- 
ledge agst their consent, who have the libertys and 
Immunitys granted them of Natural born Subjects, 
and when they have enough to do to raise Taxes 
for their own Support ; besides it may be drawn 
into a President for the future, for by the same 
Rule that a British Parliamt imposes a duty on 
the King's Subjects abroad, who have no Repre- 
sentatives in the state here, they may from 4/ ad- 
vance to 20/ — to <£100, on different things, and 
so ad infinitum, which is an Infringement on Lib- 
erty and Property and as I apprehend a violation 
of the Right of the Subject." 



112 RHODE ISLAND 

The law against human slavery, passed by the 
mainland towns of Khode Island in 1652, expressed 
the sentiment of the northern part of the colony. 
It may be doubted whether it expressed the sen- 
timent of the southern part then under an inde- 
pendent government. Whether it did or not, it did 
not do so after that part had (about 1700) begun 
to exchange agriculture for commerce. Yet even 
the slave trade was divisible into varieties. There 
was the respectable or, as it has been called, " gen- 
teel " variety lasting throughout the period when 
the traf&c was legal — the first three quarters of 
the eighteenth century. There also was the out- 
lawed and piratical variety lasting to the middle 
of the nineteenth century. Newport was concerned 
with both varieties, but it was the "genteel" 
variety that built up its fortunes. 

By the Treaty of Utrecht, concluded between 
Queen Anne and Louis XIV on April 11, 1713, 
England obtained the Hudson Bay territory, Aca- 
dia, Newfoundland, and Gibraltar. Further, there 
was obtained an assignment of the Assiento — a 
contract with Spain on the part of a French cor- 
poration, called the French Guinea Company, 
whereby forty-eight hundred African slaves were 
to be landed each year in Spanish America for 
thirty years. The execution of the contract was 
intrusted by England to a company, called the 
Koyal African, which, besides paying a large 
sum to Spain in cash, was to divide one half its 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 113 

profits annually between the Spanish and British 
kings. But so much fault was found with this 
monopoly by Parliament that it was deemed ad- 
visable to continue the former practice of admit- 
ting private persons to the benefits of the trade, 
on the payment of a duty of ten per cent on all 
goods sent by them to Africa to be exchanged for 
negroes. 

The overthrow of the Assiento monopoly was 
followed by an immense expansion in the slave busi- 
ness. Prior to 1708 Rhode Island had imported 
but one human cargo from Africa. It came in 1696, 
and the negroes were disposed of at between £30 
and X35 per head. Between 1698 and 1707 ne- 
groes to the number of twenty or thirty a year were 
imported from Barbadoes. They sold at from <£30 
to £4:0 per head, but were in no great demand. By 
1700, however, Rhode Island had begun to perceive 
where lay the path to fortune. In that year, instead 
of importing negroes for itself, it sent (under the 
tutelage of two Barbadian merchants) three vessels 
to Africa to obtain a cargo of slaves to be sold in 
Barbadoes. 

Henceforth it was not seldom that advantage 
was taken of the West India market to cover the 
so-called triangular course : from Newport (with 
rum manufactured from West India sugar and 
molasses) to Africa; from Africa (with slaves 
purchased with this rum) to the West Indies ; and, 
finally, from the West Indies (with more sugar and 



114 RHODE ISLAND 

molasses purchased with the proceeds of the slaves) 
back again to Newport. Yet the business of home 
importation was not neglected, for out of the avails 
of a c£3 duty levied in 1708 upon each negro im- 
ported from Barbadoes, provision was made for 
paving and renovating those Newport streets 
along which people had not yet ceased to fare 
to "ye spoyling and damnifying of [their] Appa- 
riU." 

But to resume from 1739. Between that date 
and about 1760 the trade in slaves was at its height ; 
and as by means of the trade in question there was 
amassed the wealth which formed the foundation 
of Newport society and of Newport culture, an ac- 
count of it will be of use. 

In 1740 the colony, according to Grovernor Rich- 
ard Ward, possessed 120 sail, " some on the coast 
of Africa." By 1763 the number of sail had in- 
creased to 184, exclusive of coasters, which were 
352. In navigating the various craft there were em- 
ployed 2200 seamen. Eighteen hundred hogsheads 
of rum had for a long period been carried annually 
to Africa and exchanged for negroes, gold dust, 
and ivory. To supply the rum there were operated 
in Newport between twenty and thirty " distill 
houses." In a word, between 1750 and 1760 New- 
port was the great slave mart for America, as Lon- 
don and Bristol were for England. Its wharves — 
in the multiplicity of which Long Wharf could 
barely be distinguished — were so crowded " with 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 115 

vessel lading for Guinea " that often, we are told, 
it was impracticable " to get one hogshead of rum 
for the cash." 

A coterie of Newport merchants, let us suppose, 
are about to send out two or three slavers in the year 
1750. One of the vessels will be a new one built 
for the occasion. The work of building probably 
will be done at Newport, but it may be done at 
Warren or Bristol — towns among those acquired 
in 1747 from Massachusetts, and both eager traders 
in slaves. In freeboard dimensions the new vessel 
(according to the naval writer Mr. John R. Spears) 
will compare with the largest " cup defenders " 
constructed to-day at Bristol by the Herreshoffs. 
Her register will be not far from fifty tons ; she 
will be rigged as a sloop or brigantine ; and her 
approximate cost will be X1350. 

Our three craft (now ready for their cargo) will 
be laden each with 120 or 150 hogsheads of rum, a 
quantity of provisions, muskets, and powder, and 
an assortment of shackles. There will still remain 
insurance to be effected, and this — secured at a 
rate of eighteen or twenty per cent — will be found 
to justify its cost by the indemnity afforded against 
such hazards (besides fire) as " men-of-war, enemies, 
pyrates, rovers, thieves, jettisons, letters of mart 
and countermart, sorprizals, taking at sea, barratry 
of the master and marines," etc. Then the little 
fleet will sail " bound," as the bill of lading will 
piously declare, " by God's grace for the coast of 



116 RHODE ISLAND 

Africa." Even yet tliere may be no sailing if the 
horoscope has not been cast ; or if, on being cast, 
it has not been found favorable ; for the captains 
of the day are nothing if not superstitious, and will 
as soon think of quitting port without a clearance 
as without warrant from a soothsayer. 

Once on the coast (at Anamaboe let us say), the 
captains will summon the native chiefs or head- 
men to a collation well spiced with rum and gifts, 
and in return the chiefs will supply to the captains 
slaves : men, women, and children made captive in 
war, or otherwise reduced to subjection. As fast 
as received the slaves will be paid for at an aver- 
age price (per head of sound adults) of a hundred 
gallons of rum, and stowed in the between-decks 
space, — a space three feet and ten inches in 
height. Here the women and children will be 
given their freedom, — a freedom to sit or lie down. 
The men will be stretched upon their backs feet 
out-board, and in this position will be ironed fast 
by chains or rods. When a cargo of one hundred 
or one hundred and twenty negroes for each ship 
has been collected, the return voyage or, as it was 
technically called, the " middle passage " will be 
begun. It will consume from six to ten weeks and 
terminate at Barbadoes, where the cargo will be 
sold at a profit of from £12 to <£25 per head. Our 
little coterie of Newport merchants will (as a 
coterie) reap a profit, per ship, on their venture 
of from £1800 to X2000 ; all, too, in six or eight 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 117 

months' time, and without taking into the account 
the cargo of ten thousand gallons, or more, of mo- 
lasses with which they will load at Barbadoes for 
Newport. 

In spite of soothsayers and horoscopes, ill luck 
occasionally beset a voyage. It was in view of an un- 
usual bit of ill luck that David Lindsay of Newport, 
captain of the brigantine Sanderson, wrote from 
Anamaboe and Barbadoes, in 1753, those delight- 
fully misspelled letters which proclaim him (along 
with Mrs. Benjamin Franklin) a true child of the 
eighteenth century. " I have Gott 13 or 14 hhds 
of rum yet Left aboard," wrote the captain from 
Anamaboe, "and God noes when I shall Gett 
clear of it." " Ye traid is so dull it is actually a noof 
to make a man creasey. . . on the whole I never 
had so much Trouble in all my voiges." Neverthe- 
less from Barbadoes he could write : " My slaves 
is not landed yet: they are 5Q in number for 
owners, all in helth & fatt. I lost one small gall." 
Not so bad this, after all. And that Captain Lind- 
say got his cargo through "in helth & Fatt," 
only " one small gall " having been so inconsider- 
ate as to die on his hands, shows that he was a 
worthy servant of those Newport magnates who, 
as James Fenimore Cooper tersely phrases it, in 
becoming slave-dealers had become gentlemen.^ 

^ "Sales of Forty Seven Negroes, & a parcel of Lumber & 
Water Casks imported in the Brigg'a. Sanderson, & put into my 
hands by Captain David Lindsay, on the proper account and 



118 



RHODE ISLAND 



The magnates at Newport between 1730 and 
1770 — while the town was advancing in popula- 
tion from five to nine thousand souls — who were 
they? 

There had just died (1727) one of the most 

risque of Messrs. William Johnston & Peter Brown, of Rhode 
Island, owners of said Brigg'a. 









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1753 


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June 18 


10 


4 


11 


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Prices £ s. d. 

£35 . . 875 
30 
25 
£29 . . 58 
28 
30 
22 10 
---1--- --- 22 10 

- - - 1 - - - - - - 22 10 

- 1----- --- 29 00 

24 2 6 

----1- --_ 21 00 

---1-- --- 30 00 

1--1-- --- Ord'ry£25 100 

2 - 1 - - - - - - do. do. 100 

--1--- --- 15 00 

9 11 8 2 3- --- £1432 12 6 

_____ 4256 1353 - - @ £4 per m. 22 13 6 

------ - 8500 20 @ 15s. & 5s. 11 7 6 



14 



Charges deduced, viz. 

To cash paid for Permit to Land the Slaves . . . . 

" Duty on 47 Slaves @ 5s 

" for Drummer attending the Sales 
" paid for carrying Notes into the Country, 
for Liquor at the Sales & for Wherry 

hire 

To the Captain's Coast Commission on £1432 12 6 
To Commissions on £1466 13 6 @ 5 p. ct 



Nett Proceeds carried to the credit of 

Messrs. William Johnston & Peter Brown, 
Rhode Island ; Their Acct. Curt. 
Barbados July 10th 1753 

Errors excepted 

Am. Hist. Record, vol. i, p. 339. 



£1466 13 6 



£00 5 
11 15 

50 

1 19 5 

55 2 2 
73 6 8 



142 15 3 



£1324 3 



Elias Meeivielle. 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 119 

notable Newport magnates of the old or landed 
order — the order of William Harris, William 
Coddington, and William Brenton — namely, 
Samuel Cranston. Thirty successive times had he 
been elected governor of the colony. Within the 
period of his incumbency there had fallen the ex- 
citing decade of piracy, perplexing years of the 
endless disputes over money and boundaries, and 
one war — Queen Anne's. At no time had he 
failed to inspire public confidence by the exercise 
of that rare faculty which he possessed of sympa- 
thetically reflecting public feeling ; a faculty exer- 
cised no less in the admitting of pirates to bail 
than in a careful avoidance of acts offensive to 
either the advocates of soft money or hard. 

Of the new or mercantile class — the class of 
genuine sea-lords — the first in point of date and 
consequence were undoubtedly our acquaintances 
William and John Wanton. With them ship- 
building, privateering, and mercantile adventuring 
were interchangeable occupations. 

A later group of merchants (and upon the 
whole the group most characteristic of eighteenth 
century Rhode Island) embraced in large part 
men already known to us through their protests to 
the king against paper money. These men (New- 
porters all) were Abraham Redwood, William 
EUery, Henry Collins, John Brown, Peleg Brown, 
Daniel Ayrault, John Freebody, Samuel Freebody, 
Godfrey Malbone, John Malbone, Sueton Grant, 



120 RHODE ISLAND 

John Channing, Gideon Wanton, Joseph Wanton, 
Samuel Yernon, Thomas Hazard, Solomon Town- 
send, and Abraham Whipple. And not only were 
these men merchants ; they in the main were mer- 
chants of magnanimous minds. They belonged to 
the class that in the Italy of the fifteenth century 
delighted to adorn the State with palaces, and to 
fill these palaces with beautiful and costly objects 
of art. It of course was at a humble distance that 
the Newport dealer in sugar, rum, and slaves trod 
in the steps of the Venetian or Florentine who had 
trafficked in silks, tapestries, precious stones, 
aromatic woods, and ivory, but none the less he 
trod there ; so obviously, indeed, that in one in- 
stance (that of Henry Collins) the appellation be- 
stowed is that of the Lorenzo de Medici of New- 
port. 

The dwellings of the mercantile group before us 
consisted in spacious wooden houses of two and a half 
or three stories, with gambrel or hip roofs. The door- 
ways were ornamented by fluted posts and scrolled 
pediments. The halls were central and wide, and 
the principal chambers were wainscoted nearly to 
the ceiling. Moreover, there were not wanting (to 
those possessed of the wealth or humor for them) 
country places — suburban villas. The latter were 
approached by roads (none too good) over the 
undulous and, in that day, tree-clad surface of the 
island; and, when gained by the visitor, were 
found surrounded by gardens somewhat formally 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 121 

laid out but made bright by flowers and sweet by 
scented shrubs. The country abode of Abraham 
Kedwood was in Portsmouth, and, under the name 
of " Redwood," was widely known for its unusual 
botanical specimens. 

According to tradition, the rural mansion and 
estate which, between 1744 and 1766, outranked 
all others near Newport was that of Godfrey Mal- 
bone. There is little in the way of information 
about Malbone that is trustworthy ; but we know 
that he was a rough and ready seafaring man of 
Virginia birth, a bold trader in slaves, fond of 
privateering enterprises, and a stanch churchman, 
in short a Byronic character. In 1744, just after 
the Spanish War had merged into that of King 
George, and just after a handsome return had be- 
gun to be realized from the sale of condemned 
Spanish and French prizes, Malbone purchased at 
the foot of Miantonomy Hill a tract of six hun- 
dred acres sloping full to the bay on the west. 
Here he built of Connecticut stone a large house 
which he surmounted with a cupola and surrounded 
with grounds embellished by hedges, terraces, par- 
terres of flowers, and ponds of glinting fish. A 
famous hon vivant was our nabob in the style of 
the day — the Georgian style — one rather heavy 
and coarse when the company consisted of men. 
And of men we may be assured that it frequently 
did consist with a host who relished exceedingly 
his turtle, his joint, his punch brewed of rum, sugar, 



122 RHODE ISLAND 

lime-juice, and arrack, and above all, his oath and 
his broad jest. 

As early as 1740 Newport was cosmopolitan. 
The Eed woods were there from Antigua ; the De 
Courcys from Ireland ; the Grants and Edward 
Scott (grand-uncle of Sir Walter) from Scotland ; 
and the Bretts from Germany. Huguenot families, 
too, from the Carolinas, driven away by the In- 
dian wars, had to some extent made the place a 
refuge with their slaves. Society possessed strong 
elements of attraction. Clubs, or what were the 
equivalent of clubs, soon appeared in such organi- 
zations as the Newport Artillery, formed in 1741, 
and the Fellowship Club (a mariners' society), 
formed in 1752. In 1761 the town was visited by 
a theatrical troup. For two months renditions of 
plays were given ; of Shakespearian plays some- 
times, but oftener of " The Spectre Bridegroom," 
" The Conscious Lover " (by Richard Steele), 
" The Lying Yalet," and " The Devil to Pay." 
The same company afterwards went to Providence, 
but the colder temper of that locality proved in- 
hospitable, and the next year theatrical exhibitions 
were prohibited throughout the colony. 

At this time, as during the Revolution, the 
young women of Newport were charming for color 
of cheeks, lightness of foot, and grace of deport- 
ment ; and the fact that many of them were from 
Quaker families did not interfere with their partici- 
pation in the gayeties that prevailed. Besides the 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 123 

theatre and the prim "teas," there were parties to 
Fort George at which dainties were served and sets 
formed to dance the " Faithful Shepherd " and 
"Arcadian Nuptials." Then, too, the shops held 
forth a constant lure in fabrics and curiosities from 
both Europe and the Indies ; and if naught else 
offered, a young woman could join a spinning 
match at Dr. Ezra Stiles' s, buy a lottery ticket for 
a charity, or invest her pin-money in spermaceti 
candles to be carried abroad and converted into 
Irish linen for her future domestic establishment. 

Newport life was ministered to by slavery as a 
traffic. It also to some degree was ministered to 
by slavery as an institution. In 1708 the town 
possessed 220 negroes, and even in 1680 Governor 
Peleg Sanford had reported the presence of 
" blacks " as a distinct element. By 1730 there 
were in the town 649 " blacks." In the entire 
colony at this date the negroes were 1648. Eigh- 
teen years later the total for the colony, including 
those belonging to the recently acquired towns on 
the east of the bay, was 3077 ; and by 1756 this 
number had been increased to 4697 — the maxi- 
mum before the Revolution. 

It was no unusual sight at a Newport wharf, 
that of some slaver discharging its human cargo ; 
" the sellers and buyers of men, women, and children 
thronging the market place." The fact that a man 
was a Quaker did not as yet much restrain him as 



124 RHODE ISLAND 

a buyer. Joseph Wanton, son of Governor Wil- 
liam Wanton, and last colonial governor of Rhode 
Island, made affirmation that "in 1758 he had 
sailed from Newport in the snow King of Prussia, 
with a cargo of 124 hogsheads of rum," etc., and 
that " while at anchor at Annamibo, having on 
board fifty-four slaves," he was taken by a French 
privateer, etc. Yet this same Joseph was careful 
to record at the beginning of his statement that 
"he was one of the people called Quakers and 
conscientiously scrupulous about taking an oath." 
Every Newport family of pretensions owned slaves. 
They were kept as domestic servants and not 
treated harshly. Upon one occasion the Newport 
" Mercury " printed an advertisement as follows : 
" Wanted : a negro from sixteen to twenty-five, 
free from bad smell, strait limbed, active, healthy, 
good-tempered, honest, sober, quick at apprehen- 
sion, and not used to run away." If the advertiser 
got what he sought he was fortunate. 

On the whole, the negro slave at Newport was 
more a nuisance than a benefit. There was little 
work there for him to do that could not be done 
better by a white man, and the climate gave him 
no superiority in point of endurance. He had three 
distinct failings : he was fond of rum, he would 
steal, and he would run away. The offenses of theft 
and absconding were usually combined. In the New- 
port " Mercury " there may be found notices not a 
few of the escape of Pomp " very artful and insinu- 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 125 

ating ; " of the escape of Caesar " who plays well 
the violin ; " or of the escape of Sarah, " a lusty 
mulatto, polite and ingenious at needlework " — 
each and all the bearers of some purloined article. 
To place the slave under better control, various 
laws were passed. In 1704 negroes were forbidden 
to be abroad after nine at night. In 1714 ferry- 
men were forbidden to transport them without a 
certificate from their masters. In 1743 (and of 
special significance is this law) a punishment by 
branding and scourging was provided for " negroes 
that shall attempt to commit rape on any white 
woman." Between 1728 and 1770 acts also were 
passed regulating manumission and against the 
keeping by free negroes of " disorderly houses." 

Among the free negroes of Newport the most 
celebrated was Newport Gardner. He is described 
as " tall, straight, and dignified ; " and his attain- 
ments (for one of his race) were remarkable. He 
taught himself much of the science and art of 
music, composed tunes, conducted a successful 
singing school, and founded a colored church. In 
addition to being able to read and write English, 
he could speak French. His weakness was an 
appetite for rum. 

Two classes of the Newport merchant magnate 
have been considered : the class that was as much 
privateersman as merchant (of which the "Wanton 
family in its earlier representatives is an apt illus- 



126 RHODE ISLAND 

tration) and the class that though engaged in priva- 
teering were not so engaged personally and that 
depended more and more for emolument upon the 
slave trade. 

But there was a third class. It consisted of the 
Newport Jew, and it differed from the others in 
that, besides the rum and slave trade, its members 
followed general commerce, reaching out for the 
commodities of the Mediterranean and the Le- 
vant. 

Jews are heard of in Newport in 1658 — the 
Campannalls, the Packeckoes, the Levis, and others. 
Then in 1694 a number of families arrived from 
the West Indies (Curagoa). It was natural that 
Jews should seek Rhode Island. In enumerating 
the persecuted races and classes for the benefit of 
whom the "livelie experiment" was designed, 
Roger Williams had specifically spoken of the 
Children of Abraham. " By the merciful assistance 
of the Most High," Williams had said, " I have 
desired to labor in Europe, in America, with Eng- 
lish, with Barbarians, yea, and also I have longed 
after some trading with Jews themselves, for 
whose hard measure, I fear the nations and Eng- 
land have yet a score to pay." " All these con- 
sciences (yea the very consciences of the papists, 
Jews &c.,) . . . ought freely and impartially to be 
permitted their several respective worships." Yet 
even in Rhode Island the lot of the Jew was not 
always happy. As early as 1684, Simon Medus, 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 127 

David Brown, and other Jews found it expedient 
to secure from the Rhode Island General Assembly 
a declaration that they " might expect as good pro- 
tection as any stranger . . . residing amongst us, 
. . . being obedient to his Majesty's laws." 

The Jews who became Newport magnates were 
of the eighteenth century — Aaron Lopez, Abra- 
ham Rodriguez Rivera, and Myer Pollock. They 
arrived from Portugal and Spain, by way of New 
York, between 1740 and 1760. Aaron Lopez was 
the most prominent of them, and he had fled from 
Portugal to escape the Inquisition. Associated with 
Aaron Lopez was his brother Moses. This firm 
and Myer Pollock gave attention to the trade in 
molasses and slaves. The Lopez Brothers — who 
owned no less than twenty-five or thirty different 
craft — encouraged also a movement (seriously be- 
gun in 1733) for the participation of Rhode Island- 
ers in whale-catching, extending the "catch," it is 
said, as far as the Falkland Islands. It was Rivera 
who more particularly devoted his energies to com- 
merce with France and the East. But his activities 
were not limited to commerce. Superior methods 
for the production of sperm oil were introduced by 
him. Indeed, so successful were his methods that 
by 1761 there were in existence at Newport seven- 
teen oil and candle establishments. Largely at the 
instance of the Jewish merchants in the various 
colonies, there had come to be formed an intercolo- 
nial combination or trust for the maintenance of 



128 RHODE ISLAND 

prices by an apportionment of material and regu- 
lation of output. 

"We had yesterday," wrote Eichard Partridge 
from London on November 25, 1755, " advice via 
France of the dreadful Earth Quake and Fire at 
Lisbon on 1st Novr. wherein were destroyed as its 
judged 100,000 People and the greatest part of the 
City." As a sequel to this catastrophe, the number 
of Portuguese Jews in Newport was increased. Just 
prior to the Revolution there were there in all per- 
haps two hundred Hebrew families. 

By the early trade in molasses and rum ; by the 
privateering of the Wantons ; by the slave trade of 
the Malbones ; and finally, by the wider and more 
princely commercial ventures of the families of 
Lopez and Rivera, Newport so waxed in wealth 
that although between 1750 and 1770 still behind 
Boston, " a bold prophet was he who said then 
that New York one day might equal Newport." 



CHAPTER VI 

THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPOKT — continued 

{Letters, Art, Science) 

Dean Berkeley — The Redwood Library, Gilbert Stuart, the Jew- 
ish Synagogue — Dr. Ezra Stiles — Newport vs. Boston. 

The individualism of Rhode Island — based, as it 
was, on that which was spiritual — on the Soul 
Liberty of Roger Williams and the " inner light " 
of the Antinomians, Anabaptists, and Quakers — 
could not, under favoring conditions, but flower 
forth in idealism. Beginning with 1729, these 
conditions were supplied at Newport by the devel- 
opment there of wealth through commerce, and by 
the presence there, for a time, of the greatest ideal- 
ist among English philosophers — George Berkeley, 
Dean of Derry. 

It was early in the year when Dean Berkeley 
reached Newport. He brought with him his wife 
(daughter of Chief Justice Forster), whom he had 
just married, and the portrait painter Smibert, of 
whom Walpole makes mention in his "Anecdotes 
of Painting." Dr. Thomas Moffatt, a learned Scot- 
tish physician, was also to have been of the party, 
but was detained by illness. " The Dean," said the 



130 RHODE ISLAND 

" New England Weekly Journal," announcing his 
arrival, " is a gentleman of middle stature, of an 
agreeable, pleasant, and erect aspect." The object 
of Berkeley in coming to Ehode Island was to await 
the remittance by Sir Eobert Walpole of £20,000 
for the founding of a college in the Bermudas for 
the Christianization and education of Indian youth ; 
but the coming was not significant for Newport be- 
cause of this. It was significant because of some- 
thing altogether different ; because, in a word, of 
what Berkeley himself was in mind, spirit, and 
training. 

The advent of the dean in Newport was like that 
of Petrarch in Parma or Avignon ; it was the ad- 
vent of a renaissance. Along with him there came 
not alone great intellectual independence and 
abounding human charity, but there came culture 
— the atmosphere of intimate association with men 
of letters : with Richard Steele, with Dean Swift 
(to whom our visitor was indebted for presentation 
at Queen Anne's court), with " Young Mr. Pope," 
and finally with Addison, whose " Cato " he had 
witnessed on its first night in the company of the 
author, the latter a bit nervous but fortified for the 
occasion by two or three flasks of burgundy and 
champagne. Nor was the culture which came with 
him by any means purely insular. It breathed of 
the Continent and of travel : of France and Gothic 
cathedrals; of North Italy and dim fugitive ma- 
donnas ; of Naples pulsing with life ; of Vesuvius ; 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 131 

of Capri ; of Cumse and Misenum and the spirit of 
Virgil. 

As has been intimated, there was at Newport a 
considerable preparedness for the influences ema- 
nating from Berkeley. In what, specifically, did 
this preparedness consist ? 

Throughout the colony there was little in the 
way of means of public education. Despite the 
earnest plea of Master William Turpin, preferred 
in impeccable script in 1685, Providence main- 
tained no public school, nor was to do so for many 
years to come. Conditions were somewhat better, 
though not much, in Portsmouth and Warwick. In 
that part of Rhode Island which in 1729 was still 
claimed by Massachusetts things were promising. 
At Barrington and Bristol there were schools — 
schools that since 1673 and 1682 had taught such 
formidable branches as " Grammar, Rhetoric, 
Lattin, Greek, and Hebrew," Newport, in respect 
to schools, might not compare with Barrington or 
Bristol, but it had not fared ill. There was a school- 
house there in 1685, and by 1710 permission had 
been granted for " a Latin school in the two little 
rooms " in the town schoolhouse. 

The press — a further means of education — 
had no place in the colony at large; but in 1727 
James Franklin (brother of the progressive Ben- 
jamin) had removed from Boston to Newport, and 
now was printing books. In a short while (1732) 
he was to begin the publication of Rhode Island's 



132 RHODE ISLAND 

first newspaper, the " Grazette," and in 1758 his 
son was to found the " Mercury." 

But if — even at Newport — public education 
was in no very forward stage/ a measurable sub- 
stitute for it existed in an active sectarianism. 
There was, it is true, no longer manifest that 
feverishness which had provoked sorrow in Win- 
throp and ire in Cotton Mather. The theological 
mixture no longer seethed in its tiny caldron. 
Precipitation, indeed, was well advanced, for, 
where once there had been Gortonism and Anti- 
nomianism and Anabaptism and Quakerism and 
Seekerism, there now were only Baptism and 
Quakerism ; and instability in these elements was 
checked by Episcopalianism and Congregational- 
ism. 

At the time of Berkeley's coming there were in 
flourishing condition in Providence the original, 
or Koger Williams, Baptist Church and one 
Congregational and one Episcopal body ; the 
Congregational body ministered to by the Rev. 
Josiah Cotton, a great-grandson of John Cotton, 
the early antagonist of Williams in public con- 
troversy. In Westerly the Seventh Day Baptists 
held strong sway. In Narragansett — scene of the 

1 Down to 1904 Rhode Island was without a uniform system of 
education. Until 1902 children could be withdrawn from school 
at the age of twelve. They still may so be withdrawn at thirteen. 
Attendance up to thirteen is unsatisfactory, as local sentiment 
(especially among the foreign-born) sanctions the employment of 
young children in factories. — B. I. School Beports, 1903, 1904. 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 133 

devotional labors of both Koger Williams and 
William Blackstone — Episcopalianism was estab- 
lished. In Newport itself there were no less than 
seven churches, four of them Baptist — one a 
Seventh Day church organized in 1671. Of the 
others, one was Congregational, one Episcopal, 
and one Quaker ; the latter, of course, very large. 
The men — the more prominent of them — at the 
head of these bodies were the Eev. Nathaniel 
Clap (Congregationalist), the Kev. John Comer 
(Baptist), and the Rev. James Honyman (Episco- 
palian). Moreover, in the case of Honyman, a 
handsome church edifice with ample interior and 
lofty steeple was at command ; as, withal, a tower- 
ing pulpit from which the visiting dean might, as 
he often did, deliver his chastened message to the 
flock below. 

The preparedness of Newport for Berkeley, 
however, is made evident not so much by the 
existence of varied and active church circles as 
by the fact, first, that these circles were mutually 
tolerant ; and by the fact, second, that in the case of 
such among them as had wealth, that wealth had 
been used in the cultivation of a taste for books, 
pictures, and architecture. 

On April 24, 1729, the dean wrote to his friend 
" Tom Prior " at Dublin : " Here are four sorts 
of Anabaptists, besides Presbyterians, Quakers, 
Independents, and many of no profession at all. 
Notwithstanding so many differences, here are 



134 RHODE ISLAND 

fewer quarrels about religion than elsewhere, the 
people living peaceably with their neighbors of 
whatsoever persuasion." Of the intellectuality of 
the Newporters the writer was fast making proof 
through his acquaintances : William Wanton, 
churchman and governor of the colony; Daniel 
Updike of Narragansett, attorney - general and 
lover of history; William EUery, father of the 
William EUery who one day was to be a signer 
of the Declaration of Independence ; the munifi- 
cent Henry Collins, soon to be accounted a patron 
of Smibert ; and Samuel Johnson, future presi- 
dent of King's, afterwards Columbia College, 
New York. It is altogether likely that the plan 
which now was conceived by a number of these 
men for forming a society for literary and philo- 
sophical discussion — the Philosophical Society 
so-called, precursor of the Redwood Library — 
was an outcome of the presence at Newport of 
Berkeley. At all events, it was in 1730 that this 
body was organized. 

Less than three short years the dean remained 
in Rhode Island, — an interval which he improved 
by building a country home (Whitehall) near the 
Hanging Rocks and the sea, and by composing 
his Plato-like " Alciphron," — but the radiance with 
which his coming had been attended did not vanish 
away at his departure. When, in the autumn of 
1731, assured at length of the recreancy of Wal- 
pole in the matter of the Bermuda College, he 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 135 

took ship for England, he left behind him a 
stimulus that lasted far into the century. 

With the unique figure of Berkeley removed — 
that figure the forerunner of Hume, who was the 
forerunner of Immanuel Kant — things of intel- 
lectual and artistic consequence in the little harbor 
town were cared for down to the Ke volution by 
various individuals, worthy successors to the phi- 
losopher and man of artistic appreciation. As 
patrons of art and public improvements, there 
were Henry Collins and Abraham Redwood ; as 
architects, there were Richard Munday and Peter 
Harrison ; as painters, there were John Smibert, 
Robert Feke, Gilbert Stuart, Cosmo Alexander 
(Stuart's teacher), and Samuel King ; as scholars 
and theologians, there were Nathaniel Clap, James 
Honyman, John Comer, John Callender, Isaac 
Touro, Ezra Stiles, and Samuel Hopkins ; as print- 
ers and publishers, there were the Franklins and 
Solomon Southwick ; as men of science, there were 
Dr. Thomas Moffatt, Dr. Thomas Brett (Leyden 
graduate), and Dr. William Hunter, distinguished 
lecturer upon anatomy. 

Upon the achievements of these men a glance 
only may here be bestowed. Redwood in 1747 fur- 
nished the nucleus of a book fund. Collins the 
same year donated a site for the construction of a 
building to be called the Redwood Library ; and, 
from the plans of Harrison, who had received his 



136 RHODE ISLAND 

training under Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of 
Blenheim House, the structure was completed in 
1750. Harrison, later, was to design the City Hall 
and Jewish Synagogue. Already Munday had 
wrought the elegant proportions of Trinity Church 
and the dignified proportions of the Colony Cap- 
itol. Smibert, Feke, and King (portrait painters 
in oils) are known from their works preserved in 
many collections in New England ; while of Gil- 
bert Stuart as a painter it is in no wise necessary 
to speak. Apropos of him (a snuff grinder's son, 
born in Narragansett on December 3, 1755, in 
a house remote, lonesome, and looking into the 
depths of what not inaptly may be called the dark 
tarn of Auber), one can but marvel at the sources 
and haunts of genius. 

Of exceptional interest are the theologians of 
the Newport golden age. Gathered in one small 
community — one at the best of not over nine 
thousand souls — there were not merely Baptists, 
Quakers, Congregationalists, and Episcopalians, 
but Jews ; and (after 1758) Moravians. 

In the case of the Jews, the position of huzan 
or reader was filled by Isaac Touro, a refugee from 
Portugal after the great earthquake. It was during 
Touro's incumbency that the synagogue was ded- 
icated. December 2, 1763, was the date, and the 
ceremony was stately and impressive. There now 
were some seventy or eighty Jews resident in New- 
port, and the Books of the Law (three copies of the 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 137 

Pentateuch executed -on tanned calfskin, one 9, 
copy from Amsterdam two centuries old) were car- 
ried by them in solemn procession to be deposited 
(symbolically) in the Ark of the Covenant. Dr. 
Ezra Stiles was present on the occasion, and he de- 
scribes the reading of Scripture by the huzan and 
the intoning of the service by huzan and people as 
profoundly impressive. The impressiveness in no 
small degree was due to the synagogue itself, spa- 
cious, and with a deep gallery supported on Ionic 
columns which in turn were surmounted by Corin- 
thian pillars sustaining the roof. Says Dr. Stiles : 
" The order and decorum, the harmony and solem- 
nity of the musick, together with a handsome as- 
sembly of people, in an edifice the most perfect of 
the Temple kind perhaps in America, and splen- 
didly illuminated, could not but raise in the mind 
a faint idea of the majesty and grandeur of the 
ancient Jewish worship." Nor, in this connection, 
should it be overlooked that to Abraham and 
Judah Touro, sons of the huzan of 1763, Newport 
stands indebted for its noble Jewish cemetery, 
fenced from the street by granite and iron, and 
kept ever beautiful with flowers, — a cemetery the 
land for which was in part purchased in 1677. 

Not a little strange must it have seemed to the 
Rev. Dr. Stiles and to the Rev. Dr. Hopkins — - 
Congregationalists of the strictest sect — to find 
themselves in such religious company as obtained 



138 RHODE ISLAND 

in Newport. Episcopalianism even was less exotic 
in Rhode Island than was Congregationalism. 
Trinity Church had been founded since 1699 ; and 
St. Paul's, Narragansett, since 1707 ; and it had 
been an observation of Berkeley's that the Ana- 
baptists and Quakers each agreed that the Church 
of England was " the second best." Stiles and 
Hopkins were in a highly undogmatic atmosphere ; 
and though upon Hopkins (disciple of the relent- 
less Edwards) the effect was limited, upon Stiles 
it unquestionably was far-reaching. 

The latter, indeed, despite the hmsquerie of his 
memorable consignment to hell of the unregenerate 
Ethan Allen of Vermont, was a man of astonish- 
ing breadth. He was broad enough to make a close 
companion of Touro, and of a visiting Rabbi, Haym 
Isaac Karigal. He was broad enough to seek out 
Albertus Ludolphus Rusmeyer, the pastor of the 
Moravians, and to make a companion of him. He 
was broad enough to converse tolerantly with a vis- 
iting Romish priest, a knight of St. John. He was 
broad enough to read the Philosophical Dictionary 
of Voltaire, and to finish it with the comment: 
" He [Voltaire] has some instructive remarks." 
He was broad enough (and perhaps this was a cru- 
cial test) to take an intelligent interest in Roger 
Williams and Samuel Gorton, making a pilgrimage 
to the grave of the one, and seeking throughout 
Warwick for incidents in the life of the other.^ 

^ Nowhere, possibly, is the catholicity of Stiles more clearly 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 139 

Not only did Stiles have breadth, he possessed 
(and in this no doubt lay much of the secret of his 
breadth) a scholarship and an intellectual curiosity 
that were splendidly varied. His interest ranged 
easily from " Jeremiah " to comets. Little that 
was human was alien to him. The result was 
that instead of degenerating into a pedant, he be- 
came one of the most useful men in Newport. He 
was librarian of the Eedwood Library. When 
George II died, he preached the commemorative 
sermon. When Dr. Franklin's experiments in elec- 
tricity were published, he at once procured the 
quarto. When, on June 3, 1769, there occurred 
the transit of Venus, he was ready for it. For days 
in advance he had been " taking equal altitudes ; " 
" getting made an astronomical sextant ; " " regu- 
lating two clocks by the meridian." On the event- 
ful day itself the record stands thus : " Fine serene 
day. . . . The transit of Venus will not happen 

shown than in his lament (June 8, 1782) upon the death of his 
friend Aaron Lopez, the Jewish Newport merchant. He writes : 
" He was a Merchant of the first eminence ; for Honor & extent 
of commerce prohably surpassed by no Mercht in America. . . . 
Without a single enemy & the most universally beloved by an ex- 
tensive Acquaintance of any man I ever knew. . . . The amiable 
and excellent Characters of a Lopez, of a Manasseh Ben Israel, 
of a Socrates, & a Gang-enelli, would almost persuade us to hope 
that their Excellency was infused by Heaven, and that the virtu- 
ous & Good of all nations & religions, notwithstandg their Delu- 
sions, may be bro't together in Paradise on the Xtian System, 
finding Grace with the all benevolent & adorable Emmanuel who 
with his expiring breath & in his deepest agonies, prayed for those 
who knew not what they did." — Literary Diary, vol. iii, p. 24. 



140 RHODE ISLAND 

again in above an hundred years at either node ; 
and at this descending node again, not in 236 years 
or before A. D, 2004. . . . There were three ob- 
servers at the same time looking at the sun. . . . 
I was the first that espied Venus's entrance. . . . 
At sunset Venus had passed the middle of the 
transit and sat in the Sun's disk." Among Stiles's 
assistants at the observation were William Vernon, 
William EUery, and William Marchant — a mer- 
chant and two lawyers. In this fact there was 
nothing strange in the Newport of 1769. 

It would be interesting to emphasize the catho- 
licity of Stiles by noting the promptitude with 
which everybody with anything on his mind or in 
his heart sought him out ; from a French fencing- 
master to the young daughter of Myer Pollock and 
her Hebrew lover who wished to become Christians. 
A better way, perhaps, will be by noting the ap- 
proach which the Newport pastor made to Berkeley 
in power of prevision. Looking westward, before 
1729, the dean had sung : — 

" Westward the course of Empire takes its way." 

Looking westward in 1770, Ezra Stiles wrote : 
" [When] English America is fully settled from 
the Atlantic to the Mississippi, the English of the 
present idiom may be spoken by one hundred mil- 
lion. . . . Probably the English will become the 
vernacular tongue of more people than any one 
tongue ever was on earth except the Chinese." 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 141 

Toward one only of the great humanities was 
Stiles in his catholicity indifferent, not to say hos- 
tile, and that was music. Herein he but reflected 
contemporary Newport. Berkeley, on his return to 
England, had sent an organ to Trinity Church; 
but none was admitted to any other Newport house 
of worship, and in fact it was not until 1770 that 
Providence so far became progressive as to tolerate 
an instrument. In that year the First Congrega- 
tional Church of Providence erected an organ of 
two hundred pipes. This departure King's Church 
(the Episcopal body) imitated by importing an 
instrument from Boston — one, as Dr. Stiles sar- 
castically records, from " Concert Hall where it has 
been improved in promoting festivity, merriment, 
effeminacy, luxury and midnight re veilings." In 
1739 the organist of the Berkeley gift had written ; 
" The Want of Instruments together with the Nig- 
gardliness of the People of this Place, and their 
not having a Taste for Musick, render it impos- 
sible for any one of my Profession to get a com- 
petent maintenance here; and their Feuds and 
Animosities are so great concerning their Govern- 
ment, that a Man can take but little Satisfaction 
in being among them." 

But while Newport in the middle eighteenth 
century was to most things strikingly alive — alive 
to letters, alive to art, and alive to science ^ — Bos- 

^ " Is it truth, or am I blinded by partiality," wrote Dr. Ben- 



142 RHODE ISLAND 

ton at the same period was, intellectually con- 
sidered, in a state bordering on deadness. What 
for Newport was a golden age, for Boston, and in- 
deed for Massachusetts at large, was an age little 
short of glacial. In point of pure pedagogics, 
Massachusetts was altogether in advance of Rhode 
Island ; but until in Massachusetts history there is 
reached the period just preceding the Revolution, 
— the period of the Otises and the Adamses, — 
Massachusetts life, Boston life, was manacled and 
numbed by theology.^ 

At a time when at Newport and in Narragansett 

jamin Waterhouse to Thomas Jefferson on September 14, 1822, 
" when I say that this small State of Rhode Island has been fer- 
tile in events, and by no means destitute of distinguished charac- 
ters. ... It was the Redwood Library that rendered reading- 
fashionable throughout the little community of Rh. Island during 
70, or 80 years, w^ advantage was not then enjoyed in Mass*^. New 
Hampshire or Connecticut. It diffused a knowledge of general 
and particular history, geography, ethics & poetry & polite litera- 
ture. ... It sowed the seeds of that science and rendered the 
inhabitants of Newport, if not a learned yet a better read, & [more] 
inquisitive people than any other town in New England." — Pub. 
E. I. Hist. Soc. vol. ii, pp. 175, 176. 

1 "The Magnalia," says Mr. Charles Francis Adams, "stands 
to-day the one single literary landmark in a century and a half 
of colonial and provincial life, — a geological relic of a glacial 
period, — a period which in pure letters produced, so far as Massa- 
chusetts was concerned, absolutely nothing else, — not a poem, 
nor an essay, nor a memoir, nor a work of fancy or fiction of 
which the world has cared to take note." — Massachusetts: its 
Historians and its History, p. 67. 

" The remarkable literary revival of Queen Anne's reign was 
little observed or felt here [in Boston]." Delano A. Goddard, 
Memorial History of Boston, vol. ii, p. 413. 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 143 

private libraries (as we are reminded by Mr. Wil- 
liam E. Foster) contained books such as the "Faerie 
Queene," "Hudibras," "Samson Agonistes," the 
plays of Ben Jonson, Pope's Homer, and the plays 
of Moliere, none of these was to be found in the 
library of Harvard College, the largest library in 
the Bay colony. Nor did Harvard possess a line 
of Addison, Steele, or Swift, writers with whom 
(through Berkeley) Ehode Islanders were inti- 
mately acquainted, and whose works were among 
those earliest secured for the Redwood collection. 
Or, to put the matter otherwise, at a time when in 
Rhode Island religious feeling was not permitted 
to become tense, in Massachusetts the tension, reli- 
giously, was such that men, maddened by the 
thought of impending perdition, not only carped 
at Baptist, Quaker, and Episcopalian, but daily 
groveled before their Maker as before a Moloch, 
Hours upon their knees did the Mathers, the Sew- 
alls, and the Edwardses wrestle with Jehovah, as 
wrestled Jacob of old ; imploring, beseeching, aye, 
even demanding of God mercy as promised in his 
Holy Word.i 

And the culmination — what was it ? Instead 
of an intellectual renaissance, it was an hysteria, 
a mania, — the great religious awakening of 1740 

^ On Christmas Day, 1696, Samuel Sewall, as he relates in his 
interesting diary, made a solemn ceremonial visit to the family 
tomb, where he rearranged the coffins and found the exercise " an 
awful yet pleasing Treat." — 5th Mass. Hist. Coll. vol. v, p. 443. 



144 RHODE ISLAND 

under Edwards and Whitefield. In certain of the 
American colonies, as for instance Virginia, the 
Great Awakening wrought undoubted good. It set 
man and God, hitherto far apart, face to face. 
But in Massachusetts it produced excess. Still, 
for us the noteworthy fact in connection with 
it is that it failed to react with any power upon 
Ehode Island. Here, as in North Carolina, the in- 
ward serenity of the Quaker, backed by the out- 
ward serenity of the churchman, gave it little 
quarter, and it fell back substantially a broken 
wave. 

The Newport golden age, — the age of the com- 
mercial, social, and intellectual preeminence of 
Ehode Island, — the age which, beginning with 
the Wantons in the realm of seamanship and trade 
and with Berkeley in the realm of ideas, counts 
upon the rosary of its years so many names that 
are inspiring, passed away with the Revolution. 
Since the Eevolution, Massachusetts (largely under 
the individualizing influence of Unitarianism) has 
realized its golden age. To-day, perchance, it is the 
dream of Massachusetts hardly less than of Ehode 
Island that 

" Time will run back and fetch the age of gold." i 

^ In 1891 Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge contributed to the Century 
Magazine for September a paper on the distribution of ability in 
the United States. According to Mr. Lodge (whose basis of esti- 
mate was Appleton's Encyclopedia of American Biography), the 
United States had produced 14,243 persons of more than average 
talent. Of those Massachusetts was to be credited with 2686 and 



THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWPORT 145 

Rhode Island with 291. In 1890, by the Federal Census, the pop- 
ulation of Massachusetts was 2,238,943, and that of Rhode Island 
345,506. In Massachusetts, therefore, the men of ability (up to 
1891) had been about one in eighty-four of the total population, 
and in Rhode Island about one in one hundred and eighteen. 



CHAPTER VII 

OLD NARKAGANSETT 

Huguenot Refugees — English Planters — The Torrey Lawsuit 
— Dr. James MacSparran — Plantation Life. 

The Narragansett country (called in 1665 the 
King's Province and in 1686 Rochester) embraced 
that part of Ehode Island lying west of Narragan- 
sett Bay and south of the Warwick line. In 1660 
the southwestern corner of this region had been 
preempted by Rhode Island, as against Connecti- 
cut, under the name of Misquamicutt, — a name 
changed in 1669 to Westerly; and in 1677 the 
northeastern corner had been preempted under the 
name of East Greenwich. 

The settlement of East Greenwich derives inter- 
est from the case of Dr. Pierre Ayrault and his 
compatriots. 

In 1686 the Atherton Land Company, which, 
under the mortgage to it in 1660 by the sachems, 
assumed to control the unoccupied parts of Narra- 
gansett, sold to forty-five French families (driven 
from home by the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes) betweeen four and five thousand acres 
within the limits of East Greenwich. These lands 
were duly taken into possession and improved. 



OLD NARRAGANSETT 147 

Moreover, when in 1690 war broke out between 
England and France, the settlers cheerfully bound 
themselves to good behavior by an oath of alle- 
giance to the English sovereign. But as time 
passed the English occupants of lands in the vicin- 
ity of the French — lands obtained under grants 
from the colony of Rhode Island, and which, prior 
to the coming of the refugees, had been platted 
into lots and highways — began to assert them- 
selves by seeking to extend the highways through 
the property of the newcomers. The outcome was 
trouble to such a degree that in 1692 the entire 
French settlement, save two families, removed to 
New York or Boston. 

Of the two families that remained, Dr. Ayrault's 
was one. The doctor had built a substantial house, 
planted an orchard and a vineyard, and, failing 
altogether (through unfamiliarity with the English 
tongue) to comprehend the question of title in- 
volved between the Atherton Company and Rhode 
Island, saw no reason why he should abandon his 
homestead. He not only did not abandon it, but 
obstructed such of the highways as were sought 
to be opened through it. At length, in July, 1700, 
a warrant of arrest was issued against him by the 
assistants of the town of Warwick sitting in East 
Greenwich. He and his son Daniel were dragged 
with cruel severity before these officials by an 
excited mob, and forced to give bonds for their 
appearance for trial. The trial resulted in an order 



148 RHODE ISLAND 

for the extension of the highways, but the outrages 
perpetrated upon the Ayrault family were recorded 
in affidavits, and formed not the least substantial 
part of the plea against Rhode Island submitted 
to the Lords of Trade by Dudley in 1705.1 

Of the many things of interest in the history of 
Narragansett the Huguenotic settlement and dis- 
persion constitute but one. Others are the rise of 
a class of large landholders and the contemporane- 
ous rise and spread of Quakerism and Anglicanism. 

The settlement of the Narragansett country was 
effected by land companies, — especially by the 
Pettiquamscutt Company of 1657 and the Atherton 
Company of 1659. These companies, along with 
the Misquamicutt settlers on the Pawcatuck Kiver, 
controlled between them that great strip, two to 
four miles wide, which extends westwardly along 
the bay and seacoast from Wickford, — a strip 
remarkable for fertility in a region otherwise stony 
and barren. And not only was the land controlled 
by companies. The companies were composed of 
few members, so individual estates were large. 
Such estates, too, for many years were kept large. 
They were favored by the English custom and law 

^ A Huguenot prominent in Rhode Island and identified with 
Newport, Narragansett, and Providence, was Gabriel Bernon. 
He came from Boston, and, like the Huguenots from Massachu- 
setts to South Carolina, was a stanch friend to the Church of 
England. He was instrumental in founding Trinity Church, New- 
port (1699-1700), St. Paul's, Narragansett (1707), and St. John's, 
Providence (1722). 



OLD NARRAGANSETT 149 

of primogeniture (not finally abrogated m Rhode 
Island until 1770) and by a law prohibiting attach- 
ment for debt in the case of a resident landowner. 
Neither Providence, Portsmouth, Warwick, nor 
Newport was settled exactly as was Narragansett. 
None of them was settled by a few men of large 
means, although in this respect Newport more 
closely resembled Narragansett than did Provi- 
dence, Portsmouth, or Warwick. The peculiarity 
of large, not to say enormous, estates in the King's 
Province was remarked upon in 1670 by Major 
Mason of Connecticut, who described the holdings 
as " five, six and ten miles square." 

Of the Pettiquamscutt Company the members 
originally were in part Episcopalian and in part 
Congregationalist. John Hull, the Boston mem- 
ber, was clearly Congregationalist ; Wilbor, Mum- 
ford, and Brenton were probably Episcopalian ; 
Arnold, Wilson, and Porter were nondescript. In 
1668 the company donated for ministerial support 
in Pettiquamscutt three hundred acres, specifying 
that the minister was to be "orthodox," but failing 
to declare wherein orthodoxy consisted. In 1679 
the three-hundred-acre grant for the support of a 
minister was confirmed ; but so completely was it 
still left in the dark as to what the principles of 
the minister were to be that in 1692, when the 
land was being platted, Jahleel Brenton (then a 
member of the company) advised that no attempt 
be made to settle the point, but that it be left open 



150 RHODE ISLAND 

to dispute. Accordingly a very pretty dispute was 
waged between the Congregationalists under the 
Kev. Joseph Torrey and the Episcopalians under 
MacSparran until 1752. In that year the king in 
council, moved by the fact that Brenton, Wilbor, 
and Hull all had at some time been members of 
the First Church of Boston, rendered a decision 
in favor of Congregationalism as the "orthodoxy" 
meant to be subsidized in the grant of 1668.^ 

It was the Quakers and Episcopalians who in 
Narragansett created the religious atmosphere. 
At the same time it should be borne in mind that 
in Westerly Quakers and Episcopalians alike were 
outnumbered by the Seventh Day and other Bap- 
tists. The Seventh Day Society was an offshoot 
from the early Seventh Day Church at Newport, 
and was organized in 1708. Among the other 

1 In 1695, 1696, and 1702, Samuel Sewall, who was a son-in-law 
of John Hull, and who succeeded him as a proprietor in Petti- 
quamscutt, made gifts of land there for school and ministerial 
purposes as follows : five hundred acres (near Yagoo Pond) for a 
local school, five hundred acres (adjoining) to Harvard Colleg'e, 
and three hundred acres on Tower Hill for a meeting-house. The 
lands for the support of a local school were sold in 1825, and 
the income from the proceeds (about $350 a year) is used to sup- 
port a teacher. The Harvard Colleg-e land also has been sold, 
and the income from the proceeds supports two scholarships 
worth, each, two hundred dollars a year. The ministerial land 
(of which Sewall was in reality but one of the proprietors) was 
the tract over which there was wag-ed the lawsuit Torrey ?js. 
Gardner. The proceeds of this land (which in 1878 amounted to 
nearly $6000) are devoted to the support of a Congregational 
minister in Narragansett. — Pub. B. I. Hist. Soc. vol. ii, p. 117. 



OLD NARRAGANSETT 151 

Baptists were the New Lights, a society which 
came into existence about 1742 with the White- 
field revival. It served as the medium for so much 
of the Whitefield influence as found scope in 
Rhode Island. As determined by conditions purely 
economic, Narragansett life was favorable to the 
Episcopalians. That life, too, had the fortune to 
be blessed, during a considerable part of the eigh- 
teenth century, with the ministrations, religiously, 
of a man who fitted into these conditions with re- 
markable nicety, — the Rev. James MacSparran. 
The witty and genial personality of the doctor 
may well serve as a centre about which to group 
the life in question. 

On arriving in Rhode Island in April, 1721, 
MacSparran (a Scotch-Irish bachelor and mission- 
ary twenty-eight years old) found awaiting him a 
tasteful church building (St. Paul's) and seven 
or less communicants. As a first important step 
the young missionary proceeded (May 22, 1722) 
to get rid of his bachelorhood by marrying a 
handsome lass of seventeen summers — Hannah 
Gardiner. This step at once brought the husband 
into the select circle of the Grardiners, the Hazards, 
the Robinsons, and the Updikes ; withal it soon 
increased the number of his communicants. Just 
who the Gardiners, the Hazards, the Robinsons, 
and the Updikes were it becomes for us of interest 
to inquire. 

Beginning with the Updikes, these families 



152 RHODE ISLAND 

were the present owners of the Wickford (Caw- 
camsqussick) and Boston and Point Judith Neck 
lands, and they had as landed neighbors the Cham- 
plins, the Stantons, and the Babcocks. The lands 
in question opened upon the old Pequod Path (Post 
Road) and embraced, per owner, anywhere from 
two to twelve thousand acres. The Smiths (to 
whom the Updikes succeeded) were proprietors 
at one period of a tract nine miles long by three 
wide ; and Thomas Stanton lorded it over a tract 
measuring four and one half by two miles. Upon 
such estates the dwelling-houses were large, with 
gambrel roofs, low beam-traversed ceilings, and 
of course great fireplaces. Negro slaves were the 
servants, and quarters for them were provided 
in the spacious attics or else in a special wing 
attached to the dwellings after the plan of a 
Maryland manor. The primary products of a 
Narragansett farm were sheep and cattle. From 
these animals there were derived wool, butter, and 
cheese — the latter a reproduction of the famous 
Cheshire article, the recipe for which had been 
brought from England by the wife of Eichard 
Smith. There were produced also horses, the 
Narragansett pacer, an animal (whether Spanish 
or native in origin) proverbially easy of gait and 
so fleet that, according to MacSparran, it could 
pace a mile in little more than two minutes. 

The social customs to which the economic con- 
ditions in Narragansett gave rise were, despite the 



OLD NARRAGANSETT 153 

fact that there was produced no single staple like 
tobacco, almost exactly those of Virginia. The 
men were large-hearted, hospitable, and command- 
ing; the women dignified and courteous. As in 
the Old Dominion, dwellings were widely sepa- 
rated and visiting was made an institution. Tav- 
erns hardly existed, for strangers were expected 
to bring with them letters of introduction, which 
would admit them to the family and neighborhood 
circle. With strangers as guests, various were the 
forms of entertainment resorted to. If the visitor 
were fond of shooting, the innumerable coverts 
abounded in partridges and quail. If he were a 
devotee of the chase, hounds and horns and hunt- 
ers were at his disposal, with if anything rather a 
superfluity of walls and ditches to test the sureness 
of his seat. Berkeley's " Alciphron," which reflects 
closely the Khode Island environment of the writer, 
depicts in the fifth dialogue a fox hunt, with the 
noise of the opening of hounds, the winding of 
horns, and the clamoring of country gentry in 
frocks, short wigs, and jockey boots. Or, if the 
visiting stranger were a Virginian, as readily he 
might be (for a similarity of tastes led to an 
exchange of civilities between the two sections) 
horse-racing for silver tankards was a favorite 
pastime. 

Nor were the gentry of Narragansett indifferent 
to the higher forms of pleasure. A good many 
private libraries existed among them. Daniel Up- 



154 RHODE ISLAND 

dike, the Kingstown representative in the New- 
port Philosophical Society, owned Pope's Iliad, the 
works of Hesiod, Yirgil's poems, the " Colloquies 
of Erasmus," dialogues from Moliere, and other 
books ; while Smibert, fresh from the Madonna 
del Granduca and the glories of all Tuscany, 
found patrons in Pettiquamscutt as well as in 
Newport. There were no schools, but the Virginia 
plan of private tutors obtained, and both young 
men and damsels were trained with care in polite 
learning. Dr. MacSparran instructed young men. 
Peter Simons, a Newport teacher of music and 
helles lettres^ instructed young women. Hannah 
Eobinson, the Narragansett beauty of her day, 
fell madly in love with Simons, — so madly, and 
withal unfortunately, that a mere historical pen 
must despair of doing justice to the romance. 

In the midst of the life described, James Mac- 
Sparran (made a Doctor of Sacred Theology by 
Oxford University in 1737) moved ever, as at first, 
a leading figure. Before he was forty he had grown 
portly, — "a full-bodied fat fellow," he calls him- 
self ; and in his broad wig he not a little reminds 
one (as the editor of his diary. Dr. Daniel Good- 
win, truly observes) of a clerical Dr. Samuel John- 
son. Scotch-Irishman that he was, his tongue was 
sharp. He said of Khode Island two memorable 
things : one, that " liberty of conscience there was 
carried to an irreligious extreme ; " and the other, 
that " the Ehode Islanders [apropos of their paper 



OLD NARRAGANSETT 166 

money delusion] were perhaps the only people on 
earth who had hit on the art of enriching them- 
selves by running in debt." His tartness, and, too, 
a certain air of superiority which no doubt he car- 
ried, led the vigorous Ezra Stiles to brand him in 
his diary as a "vainglorious, turbulent, haughty, 
domineering priest." The MacSparran rectory was 
located on the brow of the hill which to-day bears 
the name MacSparran, and the outlook from it was 
(and is) one of the most comprehensive in Rhode 
Island. To the north and left was Pettiquamscutt 
Pond, with the mill of Stuart the snuff grinder at 
the head of it ; in front flowed the Pettiquamscutt 
River; beyond (across the shores of Conanicut) 
rose the Colony House and spire of Trinity Church, 
Newport; to the south and right stretched miles 
of bay and sea line lost in the ultima thule of 
Block Island. 

Like every one about him, MacSparran was a 
slaveholder, and he occasionally deemed it whole- 
some to administer the lash. In June, 1745, he 
notes that he gave "Moroca one or two Lashes 
for receiving presents from Mingo. I think it was 
my duty to correct her," he says, and then adds : 
"W*ever Passion passed between my wife and 
me on y^ occasion Good L*^ for give it." Hannah 
MacSparran evidently was possessed of a mind 
and temper of her own, for elsewhere the doctor 
aUudes to her as " my poor passionate dear." 

In subsequent years in Narragansett the tender- 



156 KHODE ISLAND 

ness of the rector's wife for the maid Moroca was 
to be justified in the growth toward the negro 
(under the fostering care of " College Tom " Haz- 
ard) of a sentiment so compassionate that slave- 
holding little by little was undermined. In 1745 
small was the thought of such a thing. At that 
period the very existence of local society seemed 
to be, and probably was, dependent upon slavery. 
In contrast with Newport, Narragansett had real 
work for the negro to perform; and unless per- 
formed by him, it is difficult to see by whom it 
would or could have been. The great farms needed 
to be manned; and white laborers found on the 
sea a life too profitable and too fuU of freedom to 
be abandoned for dairy tasks. 

By 1750, Narragansett, in respect to the number 
of its slaves and hence in respect to its material 
prosperity, was at its zenith. It contained within 
its limits about one thousand negroes — a propor- 
tion (in South Kingstown) of one negro to every 
two or three white men. In Newport the negroes 
were 1105. Together, therefore, the two localities 
contained almost exactly two thirds of the negro 
population of the colony .^ 

1 On April 14, 1751, Dr. MacSparran preached on Tower Hill 
a sermon of high admonition before Thomas Carter of Newport 
who had been condemned to death for the murder (near Petti- 
quamscutt Pond) of William Jackson, a Virginia trader. Carter 
was hanged on the 10th of May, and his execution was witnessed 
by a great throng. So many came from Newport that, it is said, 
fear was felt there lest the negro slaves, taking advantage of the 



OLD NARRAGANSETT 157 

The sports of the negro in the sometime King's 
Province were in the main the dancing and frolics 
of Virginia ; but corn huskings took the place of 
'coon and 'possum hunts, and one sport was thor- 
oughly unique — the negro election. It was held 
on the third Saturday in June in each year, and 
was conducted for the purpose of choosing a negro 
town leader called the governor. Electioneering, 
styled " parmenteering," was rife for weeks in ad- 
vance, and the result was determined by a count of 
heads taken after the voters (resplendent in pow- 
dered queues and monster cocked-hats and swords) 
had been drawn up in double rank under the su- 
pervision of a grand marshal. 

It is now nearly one hundred and fifty years since 
Old Narragansett began to fade and pass. To-day, 
as the pedestrian wends his way by the home of 
Gilbert Stuart, up MacSparran Hill, and back three 
miles into the country to the site of St. Paul's 
Church, he finds it hard to convince himself that 
any life at all, save that of wild creatures, ever pul- 
sated in the solitude about him. Everywhere the 
paths are invaded and overarched by thickets ; the 
meadows and ponds darkened and made eerie by 
surrounding woods; the old-time mansions either 
wholly gone or lapsed into melancholy ruin. St. 

absence of their masters, should rise in insurrection, MacSparran 's 
sermon, which covers eighteen pages of print, may be found in 
the Narr. Hist. Beg. vol. i. 



168 RHODE ISLAND 

Paul's itself — under whicli in 1757 MacSparran 
was tenderly laid to rest, and on the site of whicli 
his monument now stands — has bodily disappeared 
(object apparently of aerial witchery), and may 
only be found by a visit to Wickford, Dr. Edward 
Channing has suggestively remarked that Old Nar- 
ragansett even in its own day was anomalous in 
Ehode Island. Based upon agriculture, the agricul- 
ture was not of the ordinary limiting and particu- 
laristic sort. It rather was part of that eighteenth 
century cooperative and commercial movement of 
which Newport (though less wealthy than South 
Kingstown) was at once the inlet, the outlet, and 
the heart. 



CHAPTER VIII 

GKOWTH OF PKOVIDENCE : STEPHEN HOPKINS AND 
MOSES BKOWN 

The Old Town — Brown University — Polly Olney — Limitation 
of Slavery — Hopkins- Ward. 

Providence in the eighteenth century is interest- 
ing in a special sense. It began the century as the 
centre of the agricultural and separatist influences 
of northern and northwestern Rhode Island. It 
ended it (or rather the first three quarters of it) as 
the commercial peer of Newport. 

Inordinately slow was the town in taking the 
first step. Down to 1740 or 1742 it was still, as in 
the seventeenth century, but a long, straggling 
street by the water front, where on summer even- 
ings the inhabitants sat in their doorways, smoked 
their clay pipes, and fought the swarms of mosqui- 
toes that rose from the marsh opposite. The close 
corporation of (now) one hundred and one propri- 
etors into which the astuteness of William Harris 
and Thomas Olney had converted the free gift of 
Roger Williams stood out resolutely against pro- 
gress as represented by the newer freemen. The 
town was agricultural, and agricultural the pro- 
prietors were determined that it should remain. 



160 RHODE ISLAND 

As late as July, 1704, it was resolved in town meet- 
ing that no more " warehouse lots by the salt water 
side " should be granted, as the space was needed 
as a common for the landing of cattle on their 
return from the Weybosset pastures. 

Yet the fact that some lots for warehouses and 
wharves had been granted (as to Pardon Tillinghast 
in 1680) shows a commercial tendency ; and by 
1711 Nathaniel Brown, a Plymouth shipwright 
forced out of Massachusetts because of his Episco- 
palianism, began to ply his trade in Weybosset 
Neck. There was a further sign of progress in the 
fact that in 1731 the old town or district of Provi- 
dence Plantations (now with a population of 3916) 
was divided into the four towns, — Providence, 
Smithfield, Scituate, and Glocester. 

Among the earliest Providence merchants were 
the Crawfords, Gideon and William. Between 1685 
and 1720 they traded largely to the West Indies 
and were the means of aflPording the slow-going 
burghers on the Mooshassuc a glimpse of the great 
world through a display of wares including peri- 
wigs, looking-glasses, bird-cages, flutes, wine-glasses, 
gold-headed canes, etc. What Providence had to 
give in exchange for commodities of any sort was 
chiefly lumber and horses, but its resources were 
supplemented by those of western Massachusetts. 
Privateering (after 1739) helped Providence much, 
and the slave trade (in which the town never was 
very ardent) helped it a little. 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 161 

It was with the rise to manhood of the sons of 
William Hopkins and James Brown that Provi- 
dence received its greatest impulse. William Hop- 
kins was descended from Thomas, who was at 
Providence in 1638 ; and James Brown was the 
great-grandson of Chad Brown, the associate of 
Roger Williams. Of the several sons of William 
Hopkins, one (William) became a celebrated mer- 
chant ; another (Esek) became commander of the 
first American fleet ; and a third (Stephen) became 
the greatest statesman of Rhode Island. Of the 
sons of James Brown — Nicholas, Joseph, John, and 
Moses — all gained eminence as merchants. By 
1760 the family were operating no less than eighty- 
four sloops, schooners, and brigantines. Each mem- 
ber, too, had severally an avocation — the public 
service, science, or philanthropy. 

Stephen Hopkins was born in the town of Prov- 
idence [Cranston] on March 7, 1707. He removed 
to the " compact part of the town " in 1742. Here, 
as his biographer, Mr. William E. Foster, has 
pointed out, he won prominence as a man, master, 
among other things, of the art of evoking public 
improvements. Commerce, however, engaged his 
principal thought, and as early as 1746 we hear of 
" Stephen Hopkins & Co." 

It perhaps was about 1757 that Moses Brown, 
then just twenty years old, began to assume with 
Stephen Hopkins, his senior by thirty -one years, 
that place of intimate friend and trusted colleague 



162 RHODE ISLAND 

which he ever afterwards held. Brown as a boy had 
been highly observing and alert. He had made it 
a practice to haunt the wharves of Providence, 
where casks of molasses were constantly being dis- 
charged, with the laudable design of catching the 
drippings. " What casks are your best? " asked a 
would-be buyer of an importer on one occasion. 
" I don't know," the latter replied. " Ask that 
little molasses-faced Moses ; he will tell you." 
By 1763 Moses was so far a judge of molasses that 
he was taken into partnership by his brothers. 
Soon we find him, in connection with Hopkins and 
such other public- spirited men outside his own 
family as Daniel Abbott, John Jenckes, Samuel 
Nightingale, Nicholas Cooke, Darius Sessions, and 
Jabez Bowen, striving to stir Providence to do 
something for education. 

With Stephen Hopkins knowledge had long 
been an absorbing pursuit. In 1732 he had begun 
making trips to Newport, where, gravitating to the 
Berkeley group as iron to its lode, he had been ad- 
mitted (along with Daniel Updike of Narragansett 
and Samuel Johnson of Connecticut) among the 
out-of-town members of the Philosophical Society. 
By 1750 he had got together books with which to 
start in Providence a public library : full sets of 
Pope, Swift, and Addison ; together with sets of 
Shakespeare, Milton, and Bacon ; selections from 
the Greek and Latin classics ; and the standard 
works of the day on politics, law, and medicine. 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 163 

By 1762 he with others had established the Provi- 
dence " Gazette,'* the early publishers of which 
were William Goddard and John Carter. 

But just now (1763) there was to be taken in 
Rhode Island a step in the direction of light and 
learning that for boldness was far to exceed any- 
thing of which, as yet, Moses Brown or Stephen 
Hopkins could have dreamed. Rhode Island Col- 
lege (afterwards Brown University) was to be 
founded. 

As early as 1761 a college after the model of 
Yale, though less sectarian, had been projected by 
Dr. Ezra Stiles. Little progress with it had been 
made, when, in October, 1762, the Philadelphia 
Baptist Association decided to establish a college 
in Rhode Island — the point in America where the 
Baptists wielded most power. Accordingly in 
1763 James Mannings a College of New Jersey 
(Princeton) graduate — set out for Newport. On 
arriving, he summoned a meeting of Baptist leaders 
and submitted to them a " rough draft " of a char- 
ter for "a seminary of polite literature." The 
seminary was to be " subject to the government of 
the Baptists," but was to admit to its boards of 
control representatives of other religious bodies. 
Manning went away, and Dr. Stiles as a man of 
" learning and Catholicism " was asked to put the 
" rough draft" in final form. He did it in such a 
manner as to divide the control of the proposed 



164 RHODE ISLAND 

institution between the Baptists and Congregation- 
alists. To the latter he in fact gave a preponder- 
ance on the Board of Fellows. The charter, as 
drawn, was introduced in the lower house of the 
General Assembly, but on objection, followed by 
loss of the instrument, failed of passage. In 1764 
a new charter, so drawn as to give complete con- 
trol to the Baptists but allowing representation to 
the Quakers, Congregationalists, and Episcopalians, 
was introduced and passed. The Congregational- 
ists, because of their forwardness as displayed in 
the Stiles charter were accorded one less represent- 
ative than either the Quakers or Episcopalians.^ 

The charter adopted was broad-minded to an 
extraordinary degree. The college was denomi- 
nated " liberal and catholic." No religious tests 
were ever to be admitted. All offices, except the 
office of president (which must be filled by a Bap- 
tist), and all professorships were to be open to 
the adherents of any Protestant communion. The 
public teaching " was to respect the sciences." 
Sectarian views were not to be taught, but "all 
religious controversies might be studied freely." 
Upon this foundation, Stephen Hopkins, in 1764, 

^ As regards Dr. Stiles' s own views in this connection, they are 
set forth in a draft of a letter by him dated August 26, 1768. 
He says : " We had lately a catholic plan for a college in Rhode 
Island but it turned out Supremacy & Monopoly in the hands of 
the Baptists, whose Influence in our Assembly was such that they 
obtained a most ample charter to their purpose." — Literary 
Diary, vol. i, p. 22, n. ; Rider, Book Notes, vol. vi, p. 153. 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 165 

and James Manning, in 1765, were chosen respec- 
tively chancellor and president. In 1769, at War- 
ren, where Manning was conducting a grammar 
school, the first college class (seven in number) 
was graduated. Among the graduates was James 
M. Varnum the defender, in 1786, of sound money 
in Trevett vs. Weeden. 

The young institution, it is hardly necessary to 
say, was beset with financial difficulties. Dr. Mor- 
gan Edwards of Philadelphia (long remembered 
as forecasting the day of his death and as surviv- 
ing that day to his own confusion) was early sent 
to England to solicit aid, but accomplished little. 
At this time in Rhode Island, as for seventy -five 
years thereafter, lotteries were the accepted mode 
of liquidating hard debts. So President Manning, 
whose own church had in 1767 been granted the 
privilege of a lottery, broached to one of his Eng- 
lish correspondents a lottery project in aid of the 
college. The reply which he received was remarka- 
ble for the day. " As to raising money by a lottery," 
runs the letter, " I dislike it from the bottom of my 
heart. 'T is a scheme dishonorable to the supreme 
head of all worlds and of every true church. We 
have our fill of these cursed gambling lotteries in 
London every year. They are big with ten thou- 
sand evils. Let the devil's children have them all 
to themselves. Let us not touch or taste." 

The next thing thought of was to make the 
college (for which as yet no building had been 



166 RHODE ISLAND 

secured) an object of competition among the five 
counties, into which, ere this, Rhode Island had 
been divided. Between Providence and Newport 
— the principal centres — the contest was close 
and sharp. At length, on February 7, 1770, a 
decision (somewhat constructively reached) was 
announced in favor of Providence. There, on the 
old home lot of Chad Brown, the corner-stone of 
the first building (University Hall) was laid, on 
March 27, by John Brown, a lineal descendant of 
the original lot owner. Strong claims had the 
name " Brown " upon the new institution before 
Nicholas Brown, Jr., made to it in 1804 a dona- 
tion of &ve thousand dollars. Especially strong 
were these claims in view of the fact that it was no 
less a person than Moses Brown who, as a member 
of the General Assembly, first brought forward 
Providence as a competitor for the college against 
Newport. 

In 1761, when the college question was broached, 
Stephen Hopkins was fifty-four years old and had 
been twice married. Moses Brown, his friend, was 
but twenty-three years old, and as yet had not been 
married at all. Moses, consequently, was an eligible 
bachelor ; and his connection with a Providence- 
Boston romance of the day — a romance preserved 
in old letters among the papers of the Ehode Island 
Historical Society — will serve to admit us to a 
glimpse of mid-eighteenth-century philandering. 



GROWTH OF' PROVIDENCE 167 

Brown was a Free Mason. So also was one of his 
friends — William Palfrey of Boston. Early in 1761 
Palfrey visited in Providence, where he was cordially 
entertained by Brown, and where he met several dam- 
sels. Among them was Polly Olney, a daughter of the 
wealthy innkeeper, Joseph Olney, in whose yard the 
Providence " liberty tree " was soon to be dedicated. On 
returning to Boston, Palfrey found that his heart had 
been lost to Polly, and he concluded to make a clean 
breast of the fact to his friend Brown, then, as ever, 
a man notable for discretion. So, on March 26, he 
wrote asking that his " compliments " be conveyed to 
*' the dear Polly," toward whom he felt altogether more 
than he was able *' to express." 

By August 17 complications began to arise. Palfrey 
had heard that Polly was " being courted " by others ; 
especially by one other — Moses Brown himself. With 
some spirit he laid the rumor before Brown, professing 
" thankfulness " that he had " not as yet advanced so 
far but that he could Retreat with Honour." At the same 
time, he demanded "the true state of the case by the 
Return of the Post without fail." It was now Brown's 
turn to show spirit. He did so by giving a Roland for 
an Oliver. Disclaiming on his part any designs upon 
Polly, he plainly told Palfrey that rumor had it that he. 
Palfrey, was paying his addresses " to a young Lady in 
Boston," — a course of conduct' by which (if it were 
being practiced) he could but consider both Polly and 
himself "Very Ungenteely Us'd." In reply Palfrey 
explained that the young Boston lady in question was a 
Miss Cazneau with whose brother he was acquainted. 
The extent of his intimacy with her had been that (and 



168 RHODE ISLAND 

that only) implied in sometimes taking a walk with her 
and her sisters, or in occasionally " Carrying her and 
her sisters with some other Ladies to a play." 

There now ensued on the part of Palfrey a silence 
long and ominous. In fact, he did not again write 
to Brown until February 20, 1762. What pangs he 
meanwhile had suffered are then disclosed in detail. He 
went, it would seem, to Providence in August, 1761, 
but found Polly gone from home. She was at New- 
port. In desperation he wrote to her making a full 
avowal of his passion. He got no reply. He resolved on 
another journey to Providence, whither he "sett out 
with Mrs. Eustis who was going there to see the plays " 
[evidently those noted in chapter v, which led to the 
suppression of the theatre in Rhode Island], but Polly 
was still at Newport. Thereupon the much disappointed 
Palfrey himself went to Newport, where he found Polly, 
but where " something or other," as he plaintively 
records, " Continually happened which hindered our 
being in private." Polly then returned to Providence. 
Palfrey attended her, but found himself " as bad off as 
before," because of " the great number of Travellers 
upon the Road." What was he to do ? He contrived, by 
the aid of Polly's brother " Jo," a neat stratagem. A 
certain Miss Paget was to invite Polly and himself to her 
home " in the Evening & take an oppor'y of Leaving 
us together." " This scheme," he relates, " took." With 
what result? With the result only that the ardent 
and laborious Palfrey was coolly rejected by Polly, 
with the approved admonition " to think no more of 
her." 

So comes to an end the first chapter in this Provi- 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 169 

dence-Boston love tale of a century and a half ago. The 
second chapter transfers the characters to Boston. 

Palfrey, rejected of Polly, bethought himself straight- 
way of Miss Cazneau. Toward her now his attentions 
became marked. At this critical juncture — just as 
" Miss Cazneau *' was quietly being substituted for the 
once " dear Polly " — what should occur but that a 
long-delayed, and hence unexpected, letter from Moses 
Brown, dealing with the Polly affair, should fall into 
the hands of the Boston damsel and be by her (" from 
Curiosity Natural to her Sex," as Palfrey put it to 
Brown) opened and read. The escape was narrow. It, 
however, was an escape, for no harm followed. Soon 
Palfrey was ready to inform Brown that " Miss Caz- 
neau was a fine young Lady & every way Calculated to 
render the marriage State agreeable." Polly meanwhile 
(for of her we are not to lose sight) had taken a journey 
to Boston. 

On April 16, 1762, Palfrey wrote in some excite- 
ment to Brown : " Polly is this minute gone out of 
the Store, having come in with another young Lady to 
buy some Silks. . . . She did not seem to be quite so 
much upon the Reserve as usual." On April 27, Palfrey 
again wrote : " Polly told my friend Flagg Last Evening 
that she thought it would have looked odd for a young 
Lady to say Yes so soon and that if there was any mis- 
understanding between us she was very sorry for it." 
Alas, Polly ! Palfrey, to his honor be it said, adhered 
to his engagement to Miss Cazneau, merely remarking 
to Brown his confidant : "I am sorry I was not ac- 
quainted with her [Polly's] temper and disposition be- 
fore, as it would have prevented all that has happened." 



170 RHODE ISLAND 

The third chapter in our love tale consists of a single 
item in the columns of the Providence " Gazette." On 
August 25, 1764, there was published the following : 
" Tuesday evening last, Mr. Thomas Greene of Boston, 
merchant, was married to Miss Polly Olney of this 
town, a young lady who has real merit, added to a 
beautiful person, to grace the connubial state and per- 
petuate its felicity." After all it was not in vain that 
Polly had journeyed to Boston. 

The year 1764 — that of Polly's marriage — was 
also the year of the marriage of Moses Brown. He 
took to wife his cousin Anna. Thenceforth busi- 
ness claimed him until 1773, when he retired and 
devoted himself to securing the abolition of slavery 
in Rhode Island and the curtailment of the slave 
trade. Anna Brown died in February, 1773, and 
one day her husband, speaking of his bereavement 
to a friend, said : " I saw my slaves with my spirit- 
ual eyes as plainly as I see thee now, and it was 
given me as clearly to understand that the sacrifice 
that was called for of my hand was to give them 
their liberty." In December he manumitted ten 
slaves. 

Next to Brown the individual chiefly concerned 
in securing effective action against slavery in E-hode 
Island was Stephen Hopkins. In 1774 the General 
Assembly passed an act prohibiting the importa- 
tion of slaves into Rhode Island. To this act 
Hopkins dictated the preamble, which recited that 
" those who are desirous of enjoying all the ad van- 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 171 

tages of liberty themselves should be willing to 
extend personal liberty to others." Yet Hopkins, 
despite his preamble, was a slave owner; one, 
moreover, that had withstood admonition from 
the Quakers, a society to which, since 1755, he had 
himself belonged. Something led him to promote 
the Act of 1774 ; what was it ? Presumably it was 
the course of the Providence town meeting. In May 
the town had resolved that "it is unbecoming the 
character of freemen to enslave . . . negroes." 
The deputies of the town, of whom Hopkins was 
one, had then been " directed to use their endeavors 
to obtain an act prohibiting the importation of 
negroes into this colony and providing that all 
negroes born in the colony are to be free after 
attaining a certain age." 

The influences (interblending and cumulative) 
to which the conversion of Moses Brown on the 
slavery question is to be attributed, and to which 
also is to be attributed the conversion (or rather 
re-conversion) on the same question of the Provi- 
dence town meeting, were at least four : The let- 
ters and exhortations of the Quakers, the sermons 
and pastoral ministrations of the Church of Eng- 
land ; the preaching of Dr. Samuel Hopkins ; and 
the unprofitableness in Rhode Island (outside of 
Narragansett) of slavery itself. 

The earliest influence was exerted by the Quakers. 
It was perceptible in 1729, and by 1748 (through 
the efforts of John Woolman) was strongly felt. 



172 RHODE ISLAND 

It culminated in 1770 with the condemnation by 
the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting of ownership of 
any negro " of an age, capacity, and ability suit- 
able for freedom." Participation by the Church of 
England in the local anti-slavery movement was 
effective though indirect. Berkeley, Honyman, 
MacSparran, and the Rev. John Usher of Bristol, 
all, between 1730 and 1743, sought by catechetical 
exercises to awaken the consciences of the slaves 
and to lead them to baptism and communion. 
These efforts were supplemented by the Rev. Mar- 
maduke Brown, — a successor to Honyman, — who 
in 1763, at Newport, opened a school for the in- 
struction of negroes ; and by Mrs. Mary Brett, — 
widow of Dr. John Brett, — who in the same town 
opened a similar school ten years later. 

If the anti-slavery efforts of the Episcopalians 
were indirect, such were not the efforts of Samuel 
Hopkins. The doctor, stanch Puritan that he was, 
gathered headway slowly ; but when in full career 
about 1770 he came little short of the mark set 
later by the illustrious company of Massachu- 
setts abolitionists. His church contained many 
slaveholders and slave traders, but the doctor spake 
right on. He said : " Newport has been built up 
and has flourished ... at the expense of the blood, 
the liberty and happiness of the poor Africans." 
Nor did he labor altogether in vain. At length his 
church was brought to resolve, that " the slave 
trade and the slavery of Africans, as it has existed 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 173 

among us, is a gross violation of the righteousness 
and benevolence which are so much inculcated in 
the gospel, and therefore we will not tolerate it in 
this church." ^ 

Indeed to such lengths did Hopkins go that in 
1773 he tried to persuade Dr. Stiles to join with 
him in sending back to Africa, as missionaries, 
two of his colored communicants — Quamine and 
Yamma. And here an amusing element enters. 
Stiles began fearsomely to suspect that the real 
object of his brother minister in seeking to send 
out these men was the " Christianizing of the Afri- 
cans on Principles to his Mind" — on principles 
not so much evangelical as Edwardsian and Hop- 
kinsian. Nothing, unless it were an allegory on 
the banks of the Nile, could be more ineffectively 
headstrong than the Edwards-Hopkins theology on 
the coast of Guinea, and that the broad-minded 
Ezra Stiles failed to perceive it argues him as sadly 
deficient in a sense of humor as was good John 
Winthrop himself. 

Of the four influences at work in Rhode Island 
against slavery, the influence which most of all 

^ In Mr. F. B. Sanborn's Life and Letters of John Brown of 
Osawatomie, 1881, there is printed a statement made by Owen 
Brown, father of John, as to what led him to embrace Abolition- 
ism. "The Rev. Samuel Hopkins of Newport, Rhode Island," 
said the father, " came to visit the Rev. Jeremiah Hallock, with 
whom I lived, and I heard him talking with Mr. Hallock about 
slavery in Rhode Island, which he denounced as a great sin. 
From this time I was anti-slavery." 



174 RHODE ISLAND 

must be regarded as a determining one was tlie 
unprofitableness of the institution. Of the truth of 
this assertion the law of 1774 itself is proof. That 
law forbade the importation of slaves into Rhode 
Island, but it took noteworthy pains to protect and 
even encourage slave importations by Rhode Island- 
ers into the West Indies, — the place chiefly where 
a handsome profit upon such merchandise was yet 
to be expected. 

The course of the Narragansett Bay common- 
wealth in relation to negro slavery is not, upon the 
whole, one that invites applause ; yet neither is it 
one from which there should be withheld all com- 
mendation. The General Assembly did not declare 
for emancipation till 1784, nor against participation 
in the foreign slave trade till 1787 ; but in 1788 it 
was agitation by Rhode Island Quakers (an agita- 
tion reinforced by the action of the General Assem- 
bly) that led to legislation in Connecticut and Mas- 
sachusetts ; and of all the States that between 1787 
and 1790 deliberated upon the Federal Constitu- 
tion, Rhode Island alone (by a majority of one in 
its convention) proposed an amendment directing 
Congress to " promote and establish such laws and 
regulations as may effectually prevent the impor- 
tation of slaves of every description into the 
United States." That the commonwealth did not 
do more against African bondage than it did, and 
that it did not do it earlier, is no small indication 
of the extent to which the individualism of the 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 175 

seventeenth century — an individualism capable of 
originating the famous anti-slavery law of 1652 — 
had been encroached upon by the commercialism 
of the eighteenth. 

But go back a little. By 1750 Providence had 
grown greatly in wealth and importance. Its pop- 
ulation now, after the separation from it of Smith- 
field, Scituate, and Glocester, was nearly 3500. 
It was become a standing challenge to the political 
as well as the commercial supremacy of Newport. 
Just where and when, had it not been for Stephen 
Hopkins, this attitude of challenge would have 
found a champion, it is impossible to tell. As it 
was, the championship fell naturally, and at once, 
to Hopkins himself. The latter, since his abandon- 
ment of rural life in 1742, had (up to 1751) filled 
the positions of justice of the Providence Court of 
Common Pleas, member of the eastern boundary 
commission, speaker of the General Assembly, 
commissioner to the Colonial Congress of 1746, 
member of the northern boundary commission,^ 

^ By both the Massachusetts charters, that of 1628 and that 
of 1691, the southern boundary of Massachusetts was fixed at 
" three English miles on the south part of Charles River or of any 
part thereof." In 1642 Massachusetts laid down the line but in 
so doing- placed it " seven miles and fifty-six poles " south of the 
Charles River. In 1719 Rhode Island, in ignorance of the error 
in the Massachusetts survey, accepted the line as laid down. In 
1769, upon petition of Moses Brown, correction was sought by 
the Rhode Island Assembly, and Brown and Stephen Hopkins 
were made members of a northern boundary commission. The 



176 RHODE ISLAND 

and justice and chief justice of the Superior Court. 
Still further was he to minister to the aspirations 
of Providence by entering, in 1755, upon a success- 
ful contest for the governorship. 

First, however, there met the famous Albany- 
Congress, — that of 1754, — and to it Hopkins was 
sent as a delegate. Beginning with 1684 there had 
been held in English America nine several con- 
gresses anent the French and Indians, and Ehode 
Island had kept aloof from most of them. We 
have seen in chapter iii, how, in 1693, a certain 
Albany Congress and its requirements were ingen- 
iously evaded ; and in 1722 the colony met a plea 
from Massachusetts for help against the eastern 
Indians by asking : " Who knows but that his 
Majesty in his great wisdom may find out and pre- 
scribe ways to make these wild and inaccessible 
subjects of his come in and tamely submit to his 
government without the melancholy prospect we 
now have of shedding much blood ? " When, there- 
fore, Hopkins not merely attended the Congress 
of 1754, but, along with his colleague, Martin 
Howard, Jr., of Newport, voted in its sessions for 
Franklin's plan of colonial union, with its Presi- 
ident-General to be appointed by the crown and 
its Grrand Council of Representatives to be chosen 
on the basis of population, Rhode Island was a 
good deal stirred. 

matter was not then disposed of but recurred in 1791, and later. 
In 1847-48 a " conventional line " was established, and in 1883 
this line was made the legal boundary. 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 177 

It was in the face of no little detraction that in 
May, 1755, Stephen Hopkins was duly elected gov- 
ernor in the stead of Greene. With the election 
referred to, the spell of a practically uninterrupted 
succession of Newport gubernatorial magistrates 
was broken. In 1727 a Providence man, Joseph 
Jenckes, had been chosen governor, but upon elec- 
tion he had found it advisable to remove to New- 
port. Greene himself, though from Warwick, was 
one with Newport in interest and sympathy. Hop- 
kins was like neither Jenckes nor Greene. He 
was the representative — the champion in fact - — of 
Providence in a long pending and now irrepressible 
conflict between the new and the old. The case 
was one not of country against town, as in the con- 
test over paper money, but rather (for still another 
time) of upstart democratic Florence against staid 
aristocratic Pisa; and the bitterness engendered 
(the bitterness of jealousy) was largely without 
rational foundation. 

Newport sent forth into the lists, as its represent- 
ative, Samuel Ward, — a young man of parts and 
education, son of Governor Richard Ward, and 
owner of a large estate at Westerly in the Narragan- 
sett country. In 1757 Samuel Ward aided in defeat- 
ing Governor Hopkins for reelection, and at the 
same time subjected himself to a suit for libel. 
Thenceforth, until 1768, Rhode Island politics were 
little else than an annual propounding and answer- 
ing of one question : Shall Stephen Hopkins or 



178 RHODE ISLAND 

Samuel Ward be governor of the colony ? in other 
words, shall Newport or Providence — the rising 
North or the risen South — wield a preponderant 
local influence ? In England it still was the day 
politically of Sir Kobert Walpole, — the day of 
bribery elevated into an art, — and neither Hopkins 
nor Ward scrupled to pay to the example of the 
dead premier the sincere tribute of imitation. A 
large purchasable vote would seem to have been 
found in King's County, for the efforts put forth 
to carry that county have been described as com- 
mensurate relatively with those later put forth, in 
a different field, " to carry Indiana." Of course 
the animosity aroused by political warfare of the 
kind described — like that of the tribal feud — was 
implacable ; and when, in 1768, an arrangement 
was at length concluded by which Hopkins and 
Ward each yielded his pretensions to first place, 
it was cause for hearty rejoicing. The ten years 
of Hopkins against Ward may be taken to have 
thoroughly demonstrated the weight and growing 
importance of Providence. During the entire 
period Ward — in every way a fit counterpoise to 
Hopkins ^ — obtained the governorship but three 
times. 

1 " I well knew Gov. Hopkins. He was a man of a penetrating 
astutioTis Genius, full of Subtlety, deep Cunning-, intriguing- and 
enterprizing. He read much esp^ in History & Government ; 
<& by read^ Conoversa & Observa acquired a great Fund of 
political Knowledge. He was rather a Quaker, hav^ a seat in 
the meeting, but it has been said these thirty years by his most 



GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE 179 

intimate Acquainta that he was a Deist, and of this I made no 
douht from my own frequent Conversa with him. He was a man 
of a noble fortitude & Resolution. He was a glorious Patriot ! 
— [but Jesus will say unto him I know you not].''^ — StUes, Liter- 
ary Diary, vol. iii, p. 172. 



CHAPTER IX 

CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 

Soul Liberty — The Suffrage — The Function of Legislation — 
Legislature-Judiciary. 

In botli tlie seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
the main feature of Rhode Island constitutional 
development was distrust of delegated power. In 
the seventeenth century distrust showed itself in 
the political system. Local communities — the 
towns — were independent to a great degree of the 
central authority to which nominally they were 
subordinate. In the eighteenth century — after 
town subordination had been effected — distrust 
was shown in the administrative system. Executive 
and judicial departments were kept subject to the 
immediate will of the freemen through an omnipo- 
tent legislature semiannually renewed. 

But first a word apropos of Soul Liberty, the 
suffrage, and the exercise of the function of legis- 
lation in eighteenth century Rhode Island. 



At Newport, upon one occasion after 1700, the 
Jews were accorded illiberal treatment. In 1762 
Aaron Lopez and Isaac Elizar applied for natu- 



CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 181 

ralization under the English statute the 13th of 
George II, and were denied by the Superior Court 
on two grounds : on the ground, first (divertingly 
transparent), that the colony was already " so full 
of people that many of his Majesty's good subjects, 
born within the same, have removed and settled in 
Nova Scotia; " ^ on the ground, second, that by the 
charter " the propagating of the Christian reli- 
gion " was one of the chief ends of the founding of 
Ehode Island, and that the General Assembly, in 
1663, had enacted that " no person who does not 
profess the Christian religion can be admitted free 
of this colony." ^ 

It is with difficulty that one can be persuaded 
that words such as these were ever uttered by 
the highest judicial body in the commonwealth 

^ The Nova Scotia movement is described in detail by Mr. R. G. 
Huling in the Narr. Hist. Beg. vol. vii. A good many were con- 
cerned in it — over one hundred persons. If the colony was 
crowded (its total population in 1762 did not exceed 43,000 
souls), the removal of the Nova Scotia contingent certainly made 
room enough for a few families of Hebrews. 

2 The statement that the colony in 1663 had passed a law re- 
stricting the freemanship or elective franchise to Christians was 
presumably based upon the fact that the Charter of 1663 (after 
the style of royal charters of the day) abounded in expressions of 
pious regard for the furtherance of the Christian religion. Such 
expressions possibly may have been understood by some as carry- 
ing the force of legislation. Between the Patent of 1644 (which 
was displaced by the Charter of 1663) and the charter itself, the 
diflFerence in respect to pious ascriptions and avowals is marked. 
In the patent there is no allusion to Christ or Christianity, and 
only a passing allusion to the Deity. 



182 RHODE ISLAND 

established by Roger Williams, — a commonwealth 
where " a permission of the most Paganish, Jew- 
ish, Turkish, and Antichristian consciences and 
worships " was, under no circumstances, to be 
abridged. 

Is it, indeed (we are led to ask), true as averred 
by the court that in 1663 Rhode Island passed an 
act limiting the freemanship to Christians? It is 
not true that such an act was passed in 1663, or 
that such an act ever was passed in the usual mode 
and upon debate. It is true that in 1719 an act of 
the year 1665 was so modified by the interpolation 
of words, " professing Christianity,'* as to read : 
" All men professing Christianity, . . . though of 
different judgments in religion, . . . shall be ad- 
mitted freemen," etc. The act as modified had its 
origin with a revising committee of the General 
Assembly. It appeared first in the digest of 1719, 
— a digest that so far as known never was adopted 
by the Assembly. By subsequent revising commit- 
tees it was permitted to pass into the digests of 
1730, 1744, and 1767, which were adopted. 

The court, therefore, illiberal though it were in 
denying freemanship to Lopez and Elizar, must be 
allowed the benefit of the plea that it was within 
an act of the colony; an act repugnant to the 
statute of George II, but one which the court 
nevertheless may not have felt itself at liberty to 
disregard. 

There is yet a further phase to the act of 1665. 



CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 183 

Not only was it radically modified by the inter- 
polation of the words, " professing Christianity ; " 
it was modified still more radically by the inter- 
polation of the words, " Roman Catholics only 
excepted." In Rhode Island after 1730 not only 
were none but Christians eligible by local law to the 
freemanship, but of Christians themselves only a 
certain sort were eligible, namely, such as were not 
Roman Catholics. In the case of the Catholics, 
however, if not in that of the Jews, the local law 
was purely a dead letter. To furnish an example : 
Stephen Decatur, a Catholic and a Genoese, — the 
grandfather of the illustrious commodore of that 
name, — was made a freeman in 1735. 

It was not until 1783 that the altogether un- 
Rhode Island-like statute in question was abro- 
gated. But despite this fact one thing may be said 
of it. The feeling that inspired it was confined to 
so few that had the law not found its way into the 
statute book in the covert way that it did, it prob- 
ably never would have found its way there at all. 
A colony which had not hesitated to withstand as 
contrary to its charter the command of the crown 
to subject its militia to the control of Sir William 
Phips ; a colony, moreover, which in 1735 had em- 
powered its Superior Court to restrain by injunc- 
tion his Majesty's Court of Admiralty ; such a 
colony would in the first instance hardly have hesi- 
tated to reject as contrary to its charter a proposi- 
tion by which it was to be cut off, through the most 



184 RHODE ISLAND 

odious of tests (a religious one), from ever electing 
to the smallest office, or even permitting to cast a 
single vote, a Jew like Lopez, a Catholic like De- 
catur, or any one of the Deistical thinkers in which 
it abounded and had abounded from the days of 
the English Commonwealth.^ 

Concerning the suffrage in Rhode Island, two 
observations by distinguished Rhode Islanders of 
the past (Mr. Henry C. Dorr and Mr. Samuel G. 
Arnold) will furnish us with what probably is the 
clue to it. Says Mr. Dorr : " Solvency has at all 
times held the same place in Rhode Island which 

1 While neither Mr. S. G. Arnold nor Mr. S. S. Rider expresses 
approval of the interpolation which burdened the laws of Rhode 
Island with a religious test for the f reemanship, both writers offer 
a plea in extenuation. They say {Hist. B. I. vol. ii, p. 494 ; Hist. 
Tract (2d ser.) No. 1) : Neither Jews, Catholics, nor any other 
communion had ever been guaranteed political privileges by 
Rhode Island, so when denied such privileges there they could not 
logically complain. But in this plea there would seem to be lost 
to view what the Rhode Island idea, as a working doctrine, really 
was. According to that idea no man, however much he might be 
discriminated against for other causes, ought to be discriminated 
against merely for cause of religion. Had the colony in the seven- 
teenth century assumed ground different from this, it would have 
puzzled seekers after Soul Liberty to distinguish between what 
was offered them in Rhode Island and what, for instance, was 
offered them in the proprietary and royal province of North Car- 
olina, where Soul Liberty (including the privilege of voting) was 
to be obtained for a price, for the yielding up of money in the 
form of a tax. The circumstance that in Rhode Island the anti- 
Jewish and anti -Catholic statute was systenaatically ignored, shows 
that instinctively the people realized the incompatibility between 
it and the Rhode Island idea. 



CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 185 

Puritan orthodoxy once held in Massachusetts ; " 
therefore (to pass now to Mr. Arnold), "the col- 
ony was a close corporation and has ever remained 
so." In other words : while Plymouth, Massachu- 
setts, Connecticut, and New Haven were each a 
close corporation from religious motives, Rhode 
Island was such from the highly secular motive of 
acquisitiveness. 

To this conclusion ample support is lent by the 
facts. 

Massachusetts throughout the entire period of its 
first charter (1628-1684) kept religion foremost as 
the touchstone for the f reemanship or right to vote. 
At the time of the adoption of the Cambridge Plat- 
form (1648), "orthodoxy in eighty-nine [two] dif- 
ferent articles " (according to Mr. John A. Doyle) 
was needful for the franchise. Even upon the de- 
mand of the royal commissioners for a pure pro- 
perty qualification in 1664, the law was so contrived 
that, as the commissioners said, " he that is a church- 
member, though he be a servant and pay not two 
pence, may be a freeman." It was not until the 
conversion of Massachusetts into a royal province in 
1691 that a pure property qualification — a freehold 
worth <£2 a year or personalty worth £40 — brought 
with it the franchise. New Haven, too, never based 
the freemanship on property ; while, as for Plym- 
outh and Connecticut, both (as Professor Herbert 
L. Osgood has recently shown) made religion the 
practical, if not uniformly the statutory, test. 



186 RHODE ISLAND 

In Rhode Island it was otherwise. There, at the 
outset (under town rule), the freeman was the free- 
holder.^ It is true that in 1665, in connection with 
the visit of the royal commissioners, an act was 
passed providing for the admission of colony free- 
men upon proof of their being merely " of compe- 
tent estates ; " but this act was deemed by Rhode 
Islanders at once too undiscriminating and too cen- 
tralistic. In 1724 a law went into effect by which 
the colony fixed the property qualification for col- 
ony freemen at ^100 freehold (approximately 
f 134), or at X2 freehold income, yet gave back 
into local hands (the towns) something of their 
original power over the colony franchise. Persons 
who had been made free of a town, even though 

^ " Landholdlng was closely associated with the right to exer- 
cise the franchise. Provideuce, on May 15, 1658, ' Ordered yt 
all those that injoy land in ye jurisdiction of this Towne are free- 
men.' " — George G. Wilson, " The Political Development of the 
Towns," Field's B. L at the End of the Century, vol. iii, chap. i. 
See also H. K. Stokes, "The Finances and Administration of 
Providence," J. H. U. Studies, extra vol. xxv, p. 33 and n. 

" That rule [democracy] was perfectly consistent, at the foun- 
dation of the State, and long after, with a landed qualification. It 
was then in this State, as it is now in our newly settled western 
States ; — he who did not own land owned nothing. . . . But the 
condition of things has changed," etc. — Thomas W. Dorr, Address 
to the People of Bhode Island, 1834. 

" There was no need [in 1665] of formally requiring the owner- 
ship of real estate as a qualification for the franchise, for at that 
period nearly all the permanent inhabitants of Rhode Island were 
freeholders." — Francis Bowen, " The Recent Contest in Rhode 
Island," North Am. Rev. vol. Iviii. 



CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 187 

they had not been made free of the colony, were 
permitted to vote for deputies to the General Assem- 
bly. At the same time, by an adaptation from the 
waning custom of primogeniture, the eldest son of 
a freeman was permitted to vote in right of the 
freehold of his father.^ 

Upon these two acts — the act expressly attach- 
ing the suffrage to the freehold yet reserving the 
selection of the particular suffragist to the local 
unit or town, and the act enfranchising a free- 
man's eldest son (both of them the acts not only 
of a close corporation but of one based upon Mr. 
Dorr's principle of solvency or acquisition) —there 
hung in Rhode Island, until late in the nineteenth 
century, all of the law and the prophets in respect 
to voting. 

With regard now to the exercise of the legislative 
function. By the Ehode Island charter the depu- 
ties or immediate representatives of the people 
were, as will be remembered, a locally chosen body 
composed of six from Newport, four from Provi- 
dence, Portsmouth, and Warwick, and two from 
each town additional. The assistants, or council, 
on the other hand, were an unvarying body of ten 
chosen by general vote. In 1696 the deputies and 
assistants became permanently separated into dis- 
tinct branches. In 1722 the town of Kingstown 

1 In England the heir apparent of a peer, or of a freeman, was 
allowed to vote. — Statutes of Anne, chap, v ; 3d George II, chap. 



188 RHODE ISLAND 

was divided into the towns of North Kingstown 
and South Kingstown, and to each there was 
allowed an assistant or member of the upper 
branch of the Assembly. By this act, which made 
the number of towns equal to the number of as- 
sistants (ten), there was established a precedent 
for the practice of introducing a member into the 
house of assistants for each new town organized, 
and so virtually of converting the Khode Island 
upper house into what it is to-day — a body of 
representatives more intensely local than the house 
of deputies. 

II. 

The dominance in Rhode Island of the legisla- 
ture over the executive and judiciary — a domi- 
nance at present as great as ever in the case of the 
executive, and only in 1860 finally gotten rid of 
in the case of the judiciary — was at its height in 
the eighteenth century. 

In none of the New England colonies was the 
governor by and of himself a chief executive. This 
function was reserved to the governor and assist- 
ants. When, therefore, in 1731 Governor Jenckes 
raised the question of the right of veto as pertain- 
ing to his position, it was easy for the crown, by 
a citation of the colonial charter, to answer him. 
Only royal governors might veto ; not even a John 
Winthrop or a John Endicott could do it, govern- 
ors as they were purely by grace of charter. So 



CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 189 

Rhode Island was not peculiar in that during its 
nonage its governor was largely a figurehead. What 
perhaps is peculiar is that Rhode Island as a State 
should, along with Delaware, North Carolina, and 
Ohio, have withheld from its governor the veto 
power. The peculiarity, though, disappears when 
it is remembered that by means of such power the 
immediate will of the town freemen (as, for instance, 
on a question like that of paper money) might be 
given a check. 

But while the governor as against the General 
Assembly was (and still is) helpless, it was differ- 
ent with the judiciary. In Rhode Island, as in the 
rest of New England, the principal early judicial 
body was the Court of Assistants, or General 
Court of Trials, consisting of the assistants them- 
selves (to the number of not less than six) rein- 
forced by the governor and deputy -governor. This 
court under the Charter of 1663 exercised jurisdic- 
tion both appellate and original ; but its action was 
subject to review by the General Assembly, called 
also the General Court of the colony. The ground 
of the right of review claimed and exercised by the 
Assembly was set forth substantially under the 
first charter. In 1647 it was enacted that " in case 
a man sues for justice and he cannot be heard, or 
is heard and cannot be righted by any Law extant 
among us, then shall the partie grieved petition to 
the Generall or Law making Assemblie, and shall 
be relieved." What here the Assembly asserted 



190 RHODE ISLAND 

was not the competency of a court of law but a 
general competency to do justice — a chancery 
competency ; accordingly when in later days mat- 
ters were brought before it from the courts, they 
were spoken of as brought to be " chancer ized." 
At first, too, the distinction was more or less re- 
garded, for in 1678 the Assembly expressed im- 
patience at an appeal which it was asked to enter- 
tain. By 1680, however, its appellate duty, as well 
as authority, was formally recognized. 

Nor in all this did Rhode Island act very differ- 
ently from Massachusetts or Connecticut. In both 
of these colonies the General Assembly entertained 
appeals and served as a court of chancery ; though 
in Massachusetts the practice ceased with the seven- 
teenth century, and in Connecticut with the second 
decade of the nineteenth. The longer continuance 
of the practice in Rhode Island, coupled with the 
bitter struggle waged there between legislature and 
judiciary, makes evident the more intense distrust 
of delegated power felt in the Roger Williams 
colony. 

The four legislative acts to which were due the 
existence of a Rhode Island judiciary separate and 
distinct from the upper house of the legislature 
were those of 1703, 1729, 1741, and 1747 ; and the 
earliest and latest of them were attended by the 
creation of counties, an indication of how purely a 
contrivance for judicial purposes the Rhode Island 
county is. The Act of 1703 divided the colony into 



CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 191 

two counties ■ — the county of Providence (the main- 
land) and that of Ehode Island (the islands), and 
provided for two civil courts (inferior courts of 
common pleas) in each. The Act of 1729 provided 
for a criminal court (a court of general sessions of 
the peace) in each county, and changed the name 
of the Court of Trials to that of Superior Court 
of Judicature. The Act of 1741 created an equity 
court of five judges to hear appeals in lieu of the 
General Assembly, but this act was repealed in 
1743. In 1747 (when, in connection with the settle- 
ment of the eastern boundary with Massachusetts, 
the county of Bristol was created) the courts of 
common pleas were reorganized, and the Superior 
Court was made to consist, with enlarged powers, 
of one chief justice and four associates annually to 
be chosen by the General Assembly. Complete 
formal separation of judiciary from legislature had 
thus by 1747 been secured. Still, in 1780, it was 
found expedient to enact that no member of either 
branch of the General Assembly should be eligible 
to the office of justice of the Superior Court. 

The extreme jealousy of judicial power felt by 
Rhode Islanders before the final establishment 
among them of the Superior Court of Judicature 
was not soon modified. In 1708 an appellee, grieved 
at the action of the General Assembly in a par- 
ticular case, had appealed to the crown, and the 
queen in council had sustained the appeal, refus- 
ing to sanction the exercise of chancery power by a 



192 RHODE ISLAND 

legislative body. Upon this tlie wily assembly had 
merely provided for a procedure before it by " pe- 
tition," and had continued to entertain appeals as 
aforetime. Such appeals after 1747, despite the 
enlarged jurisdiction of the Superior Court, the 
Assembly still welcomed. It also seemingly encour- 
aged a practice by which three jury trials of the 
same issue might be obtained : one to secure a ver- 
dict ; another to secure a different verdict ; and a 
third to secure a verdict in confirmation of one of 
the other two ; all, moreover, as mayhap but pre- 
liminary to a prayer for legislative interposition. 

In yet two other ways did Ehode Islanders of 
the eighteenth century manifest their distrust of a 
separate judiciary : by permitting the appointment 
of very few lawyers to positions upon the bench 
(albeit among the appointees are some illustrious 
names — Hopkins, Ward, Ellery, Howell) and by 
arrogating to themselves, through the General 
Assembly, the power not merely of commuting sen- 
tences but of entirely abrogating them. A striking 
instance of abrogation is that in which the priva- 
teersraan Simeon Potter, who had retired to Bristol 
in 1750, was in 1761 cleared of a conviction and 
heavy fine meted out to him for assaulting the Rev. 
John Usher. 

Slow was the development of Rhode Island judi- 
cial power, but development nevertheless there was. 
In 1768 the Superior Court (in Randall vs. Rohin- 
sori) took sharp issue with the legislature, and in 



CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT 193 

1786 (in Trevett vs. Weeden) it maintained reso- 
lutely the responsibility of its members to God 
alone for their conscientious judgments. 

From a point of view distinctively economic and 
social, the eighteenth century in Rhode Island was 
a period of cooperation due to commerce. From a 
point of view distinctively political and constitu- 
tional, it was, as the present chapter has shown, 
a period marked by the old particularism. One 
influence may be noted (constitutional as well as 
economic) which made for cooperation, and that 
was the influence arising from the incorporation 
with the commonwealth in 1747 of the Plymouth- 
Massachusetts towns. " When," says Mr. William 
E. Foster, speaking of Cumberland, Warren, Bris- 
tol, Tiverton, and Little Compton, "the stress of 
British hostilities, of [post-Revolutionary] paper 
money madness, and of opposition to the constitu- 
tion, called for the best energies, and the best 
intelligence of Rhode Island men, no towns were 
more steadfast in the defense of correct principles 
than these." 

Note by Dr. Frank G. Bates on local government in Rhode 
Island : — 

The Rhode Island town to-day conforms externally to the New 
England type, but is socially less firmly knitted than elsewhere 
in New England. 

The process of town formation, even at first, was scarcely or- 
ganic. No new centre was deliberately selected. There was no 
village green, no common meeting-house or school, no dominant 



194: RHODE ISLAND 

ecclesiastical bond, nothing about which society could organize. 
When towns of large area were subdivided, there being no cen- 
tres, it was done by a purely arbitrary process, more suggestive 
in its somewhat rectangular product of New York or the Middle 
West than of New England. 

The result of such a course of development has been a lack of 
common interests, of common action, and of civic pride. In spite 
of unfavorable environment instances have occurred where chance 
centres have sought but failed to give expression by the formation 
of a new town to an acquired sense of unity. 

Though population has become dense, town subdivision is the 
exception ; towns have long deferred becoming cities ; and no in- 
termediate form exists, save a rudimentary organization called a 
" fire district." This institution of narrow powers recalls condi- 
tions in England before the recent reforms in local government. 

From the beginning the town councils exercised probate juris- 
diction. A recent attempt to transfer this power to circuit judges 
of probate chosen by the General Assembly has been defeated by 
the rural vote, as an invasion of local privilege. 



PAKT III 

UNIFICATION AND MANUFACTURES 

1764-1905 



CHAPTER X 

PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 

Causes of Resistance — Affair of the Gaspee — Loyalism at New- 
port — Creation of a United States Navy. 

By slow degrees two convictions have gained the 
minds of writers of American history : one, that 
the American Revolution was not the outcome of 
causes suddenly arising at the close of the Seven 
Years' War, — causes converting into rebels a peo- 
ple hitherto fundamentally loyal and content ; the 
other, that the causes of the Revolution, whatever 
they were, varied considerably with the locality. 

In the case of Massachusetts, the leading cause 
of revolt was Puritanism itself with its inbred fear 
of curtailment and even of ultimate suppression 
at the hands of the established church. A strong 
secondary cause was the renewal and enforcement, 
in and after 1764, of the Sugar Act of 1733. In 
the case of Virginia and South Carolina, aliena- 
tion matured step by step out of the assertion 
and counter assertion, on the part alike of popular 
assembly and royal governor, of many sorts of 
" rights." 

But to say these things is to say naught else than 
that the American colonies (both northern and 



198 RHODE ISLAND 

southern) had from the first resented almost every 
kind of interposition by the mother countr}^, and, 
finally, were brought to rebellion because of such 
interposition. What form the interposition took 
mattered little. Orders and measures salutary and 
constitutional — such as those suppressing piracy 
and paper money and providing for appeals to the 
king in council, or such as the Navigation Act 
of the 14th of Charles II, which actually stimu- 
lated New England ship-building — were abhorred 
equally with measures like the Sugar Act and the 
Stamp Act, which, whether constitutional or not, 
were blundering. As Adam Smith put the matter 
with regard to the Acts of Trade: "These mea- 
sures (barring the Sugar Act), while not cramp- 
ing American industry, or restraining it from any 
employment to which it would have gone of its own 
accord, are impertinent badges of slavery." It was 
the " impertinence " of unacceptable interposition 
that led at length to hostilities. 

But how had this interposition been shown to- 
ward Khode Island ? What, there, had the English 
government all along been doing, which, because 
of its " impertinence " (real and so-called), gave 
rise to the spirit of resistance ? 

Down to the days of the quo warranto against its 
charter (1686), Ehode Island had had no quarrel 
with the crown, and for a threefold reason : be- 
cause, in its long contest with Massachusetts and 
Connecticut it had had only the crown to look to 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 199 

for support ; because, having no state religion it 
had put no affront upon Episcopalians, Baptists, 
or Quakers; and because, having no royal gov- 
ernor its acts and temper had never much been 
inquired into. Indeed, so loyal and obedient to the 
crown had the colony always proved to be, that, 
upon the return of the king's commissioners in 
1666, it had been especially named and commended 
by Charles II as an example to the rest of New 
England. Nor did this loyalty and obedience suffer 
diminution from the quo warranto itself. Upon 
the issuing of the writ, the General Assembly at 
once resolved " not to stand suit with his Majesty " 
— a resolution happy in its effect, for when Sir 
Edmund Andros in the discharge of his duty found 
it incumbent upon him to ask for the actual sur- 
render of the charter, he did so in words that 
broached on regret. 

Rhode Island's troubles began with the deter- 
mined efforts against piracy put forth under Bello- 
mont in 1699; were continued by the executive 
and Parliamentary measures against paper money 
taken between 1720 and 1751 ; were heightened 
by the passage of the Sugar Act in 1733 ; were 
still further heightened by an attempt of the crown 
to control the naval office at Newport in 1743; 
and were brought to a climax by the renewal of 
the Sugar Act and proposal of a Stamp Act in 
1764. These, in short, were the items of unaccept- 
able, and hence of "impertinent," interposition 



200 RHODE ISLAND 

which gave rise to the spirit of resistance in Rhode 
Island. 

On October 11, 1763, the Lords of Trade wrote 
to the governor of Rhode Island that it was his 
Majesty's command that he " make the suppression 
of the clandestine trade with foreign nations and 
the improvement of the revenue the constant and 
immediate object of his care." On October 22, 
Admiral Colvill wrote from Halifax that he had 
thought it necessary, " for the encouragement of 
fair trade by the prevention of smuggling, to sta- 
tion his Majesty's ship the Squirrel for the ap- 
proaching winter at Newport." Thus confronted, 
it behooved the colony to take action promptly if 
it meant to do so at all, and in January, 1764, 
Governor Stephen Hopkins, responding to a reso- 
lution by the General Assembly, forwarded to 
Joseph Sherwood, agent for Rhode Island in Lon- 
don since 1759 (the year of the death of faithful 
Richard Partridge), a letter stoutly protesting 
against the renewal of the Sugar Act on the ground 
taken in 1733 by Partridge himself. 

Hardly had this letter been dispatched when 
(March, 1764) George Grenville introduced in 
Parliament a resolution looking toward a stamp 
tax to be levied in America. News was officially 
furnished to Rhode Island in August, and in Octo- 
ber the General Assembly appointed a committee 
of seven, headed by the governor, to prepare an 
address to the king. In November the committee 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 201 

reported an address and also a paper composed by 
Stephen Hopkins, entitled " The Eights of Colonies 
Examined." Both papers were ordered to be sent 
to Sherwood : the first for presentation to his Ma- 
jesty, and the second to be put in print and so 
made of use to all the colonies. 

The pamphlet by Hopkins proved to be by no 
means an ordinary performance. It was philosophi- 
cal but not too much so ; it was scholarly ; it was 
strong ; it was dignified. In a word, it was quite 
the utterance which a man ambitious of the best in 
letters and bred in the traditions of Berkeley might 
be expected to put forth. Its main point — one 
suggested by the impending Stamp Act — was that 
the direct taxation of an unconsenting people was 
tyrannous and un-English, and hence unconstitu- 
tional. For the point there was, in a sense, old 
Khode Island authority. It will not have been for- 
gotten that in 1733 Richard Partridge had written 
to Governor William Wanton: "The levying a 
Subsidy upon a Free People without their know- 
ledge agst; their consent, who have the libertys 
and Immunitys granted them of Natural Born Sub- 
jects—a people who have no Representatives in the 
State here — . . . is as I apprehend a violation of 
the Right of the Subject." This, too, was the point 
on which stress had been laid in pamphlets which 
James Otis and Oxenbridge Thacher had published 
in Massachusetts just prior to the preparation of 
the Hopkins pamphlet. 



202 RHODE ISLAND 

The point, however, was one not free from diffi- 
culty. It was both strong and weak : historically 
strong ; dialectically weak. If it might be urged 
(as by Hopkins) that through time and usage (the 
basic elements of the English Constitution) self-di- 
rect taxation had become the only constitutional di- 
rect taxation for the colonies, it might also be urged 
that in the eye of English statute law (which took 
no note of time) the colonies were still, as they 
had been at the start, mere corporations within the 
realm. Nor did the weak phase escape remark in 
Rhode Island. At Newport a pseudonymic pen 
(that of " a Gentleman at Halifax," disclosed after- 
wards as Martin Howard, Jr.) took up the cud- 
gels for the British government in an argument 
not only urbane but well-nigh unanswerable. 

Meanwhile neither Rhode Island's protest against 
the Sugar Act, nor its petition against a Stamp 
Act, was producing any perceptible effect on the 
crown, and between 1764 and 1766 events in the 
colony moved toward revolution with rapid strides. 
At Newport trouble with the revenue vessels and 
(after the passage in March, 1765, of the stamp 
law) with the stamp officials was incessant. The 
schooner St. John, tender to the Squirrel, was 
fired on by a mob at Fort George. A boat belong- 
ing to the Maidstone — a vessel engaged in impress- 
ing seamen — was seized by a mob and burned on 
the parade. Augustus Johnson, attorney-general 
and stamp distributer for the colony, and his friends 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 203 

and abetters, Dr. Thomas Moffat and Martin 
Howard, Jr., were hung in effigy and their houses 
pillaged. These violent manifestations of feeling 
were interspersed with others less discreditable. 
On August 7, 1765, the Providence town meeting 
under the lead of Stephen Hopkins passed the 
famous resolutions which in May Patrick Henry 
had introduced in the Virginia House of Burgesses ; 
not excepting resolution Rye from which the Vir- 
ginia house had shrunk. Nor was this the end. In 
September of the same year the Rhode Island 
Assembly made the Virginia-Providence resolutions 
its own ; stipulating to save harmless its officers 
for not regarding the Stamp Act. Under the stip- 
ulation Samuel Ward, who had been chosen gov- 
ernor in May, alone of the entire corps of British 
American governors refused to be sworn to exe- 
cute the measure. 

In October there was held in New York the 
Stamp Act Congress, but Rhode Island's partici- 
pation though cordial was not conspicuous, and 
in 1766 the obnoxious stamp law was repealed. 
The colony on Narragansett Bay went wild with 
joy over the repeal, but two things remained still 
a vexation. The crown refused to pay to Rhode 
Island the war allotment for the year 1756 until 
such time as the colony should reimburse Johnson, 
Moffat, and Howard for their losses at Newport, 
and the Sugar Act was being stringently enforced. 

The sugar duty had been renewed at three pence 



204 RHODE ISLAND 

a gallon. It now was reduced to one penny ; but the 
collection of the one penny involved interposition, 
and it was interposition that was the real affront. 
Matters waxed steadily more serious throughout 
the period 1767-1770, a period signalized by the 
tea tax ; by non-importation agreements ; by the 
quartering of troops in Boston ; by the " Farmer's 
Letters " of Dickinson ; by the ordering to Eng- 
land for trial, on the charge of treason, of Samuel 
Adams and John Hancock ; by eloquent champion- 
ship of America in Parliament by Burke and 
Baire ; by the scuttling at Newport of the revenue 
sloop Liberty ; and, finally, by the " Boston Massa- 
cre." Between 1770 and 1772 there was again 
quiet, but in the latter year this quiet, both for 
Rhode Island and America at large, was dispelled 
by a grave occurrence in Narragansett Bay. 

One day in March, 1772, his Majesty's schooner 
Gaspee of eight guns, with her tender the Beaver, 
took station in the bay and set about the enforce- 
ment of the Sugar Act by stopping and searching 
all vessels, little and big, which came within reach. 
By this course there was caused what is known in 
American history as the affair of the Gaspee — 
the first bold, overt, organized stroke of the Revo- 
lution. The Gaspee affair, furthermore, is of inter- 
est by reason of the connection with it of Joseph 
Wanton, governor of Rhode Island since 1769 and 
the last of a distinguished line to fill that position. 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 205 

The commander of the Gaspee was Lieutenant 
William Dudingston, and Dudingston's commander 
was Admiral John Montagu, stationed at Boston. 
Bj the last of March the lieutenant's searches, 
which under Montagu's instructions were conducted 
upon the assumption that the Rhode Islanders were 
"a set of lawless piratical people," had become 
vexatious in the extreme, and Governor Wanton 
deemed it imperative to demand sight of his com- 
mission. The lieutenant did not produce it but 
sent Wanton's letter to Admiral Montagu. This 
seaman, to whom, as may be inferred, the ameni- 
ties of intercourse were somewhat foreign, at once 
addressed the governor, threatening to " hang as 
pirates" any Newporters caught attempting to 
" rescue any vessel from the King's schooner," and 
denying the governor's right to inspect Duding- 
ston's papers. Language of this kind awoke the 
Wanton spirit. The admiral was reminded with 
merited severity that the governor of Rhode Island 
did not " receive instructions from the King's admi- 
ral stationed in America." 

Wanton's rebuke to Montagu was administered 
on May 8. On June 9, a slooj) called the Han- 
nah, on her way from Newport to Providence, 
was chased determinedly by the Gaspee until the 
latter ran aground on Namquit (now Gaspee) Point, 
near Pawtuxet. The Hannah on arriving at Prov- 
idence reported the predicament of the schooner, 
and John Brown — a leading merchant (albeit one 



206 RHODE ISLAND 

not so scrupulous as his brother Moses) — resolved 
to seize the opportunity thus unexpectedly afforded. 
Brown summoned to his aid Abraham Whipple (a 
seasoned privateersman of the French War) and 
John B. Hopkins (a nephew of Stephen Hopkins), 
and it was planned to surprise the Gaspee toward 
midnight. A number of long-boats were collected, 
the oars carefully muffled, and soon after ten 
o'clock there was embarked a party of about fifty 
men. The small flotilla pulled steadily down the 
bay until the Gaspee was seen, when, with a view 
to avoiding her guns, the boats were so disposed as 
to approach the schooner on the bows. The hail 
of the single man on watch was answered with an 
oath, the crews bent to their oars, and in a few sec- 
onds the boats were alongside. 

By this time Dudingston himself was on deck 
and had called all hands. Some pistols were fired 
at the boats, and the lieutenant was in the act of 
cutting with his hanger at one of the attacking 
party clambering into the starboard forechains, 
when he fell severely wounded by a musket-shot in 
the groin. All forthwith was over, and the Gas- 
pee's crew having been set on shore, the vessel was 
burned to the water's edge. 

Great was the excitement throughout Rhode 
Island and America, and in crown circles in Eng- 
land, on the spread of the news of the destruction 
of the Gaspee. Governor Wanton proclaimed a 
reward of XlOO for the discovery of the perpetra- 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 207 

tors of the deed. Edward Thurlow, his Majesty's 
attorney-general, pronounced the affair of " five 
times the magnitude of the Stamp Act." The 
Secretary for the Colonies, Lord Dartmouth, pro- 
claimed in the name of the crown a reward of X500 
for each common perpetrator, and of XIOOO for 
each captain or leader. The rewards, together with 
a full pardon, were to be vouchsafed to any mem- 
ber of the perpetrating party who would betray the 
rest. Had the party consisted of hirelings or des- 
perate characters, the unstinted offers no doubt 
would have brought betrayal. But of such the 
party did not consist. It was made up of substan- 
tial men, well-known citizens of Providence and 
loyal subjects of the king ; of men who in making 
the attack wore their ruffled shirts and their hair 
neatly tied behind as usual, and who reposed per- 
fect confidence in each other. From only one quar- 
ter did danger impend. A negro, Aaron Briggs, 
pretended to have been with the party, and he, 
under duress from one of the king's officers, made 
a so-called confession implicating John Brown. 
His general veracity, however, proved to be abun- 
dantly capable of impeachment. 

For the purpose of eliciting actionable testimony, 
the king, in September, 1772, appointed a royal 
commission : Joseph Wanton, governor of Rhode 
Island ; Daniel Horsmanden, chief justice of New 
York; Frederick Smythe, chief justice of New 
Jersey ; Peter Oliver, chief justice of Massachu- 



208 RHODE ISLAND 

setts ; and Eobert Auchmuty, vice-admiralty judge 
of Boston. The appointment of this commission 
created a stir. It was learned through the publi- 
cation of a private letter from the Earl of Dart- 
mouth to Governor Wanton that it was intended 
to protect the sittings of the commissioners by 
troops from Boston and to transport to England 
for trial for high treason any persons arrested. 

The moment these intentions became known all 
chance of discovering the Gaspee culprits was at 
an end. The commission began its sessions early 
in January, 1773, and at about the same time the 
General Assembly convened at East Greenwich. 
Stephen Hopkins (now chief justice of the Supe- 
rior Court) made before the Assembly the solemn 
declaration that for the purpose of transportation 
for trial he would neither apprehend by his own 
order, nor suffer apprehension to be made by any 
executive officer of the colony. It was with these 
words in their ears that the commissioners bent to 
their task. They gathered what evidence they could 
(which was little), submitted it to the Supreme 
Court for such action as might be deemed warranted, 
and in June adjourned. On June 10 Dr. Ezra 
Stiles, who had watched closely every move by the 
commission, thus wrote in his diary : " I appre- 
hend something severe would have been done by 
the present Commissioners had not the Commission 
given an extensive Alarm to all the Assemblies 
upon the Continent, and occasioned the Resolutions 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 209 

and Measures proposed by the Virginia Assembly 
in March last, which are now circulating, and will 
undoubtedly become universal, viz, forming Assem- 
bly Committees of Correspondence and enjoyning 
a particular Inquiry into the Powers of this Court 
of Commissioners at Rh. Island. These Assembly 
Committees will finally terminate in a General 
Congress. ... A Congress had been sure if one 
person had been seized & carried from Rh. Island." 

But in addition to many patriots, Rhode Island 
possessed among its people many loyalists. 

The publication by Martin Howard, Jr., of 
Newport, of a reply to Hopkins's "Rights of 
Colonies Examined " made it plain that at New- 
port, at least, there were loyalists. Indeed, Newport 
was the seat of the loyalists. Loyalism meant 
simply conservatism, and conservative Newport 
had always been. As founded by Coddington it 
was a protest against the radicalism of Portsmouth 
under Anne Hutchinson and Samuel Gorton. 
Then in subsequent years Newport had amassed 
wealth and acquired social prestige, and both wealth 
and prestige are conservative forces. Newport 
loyalism, too, was fostered in another way. The 
town was filled with Quakers ; it contained a good 
many Baptists and not a few Episcopalians. The 
Episcopalians were natural loyalists, and the Quak- 
ers contributed to loyalism by their opposition to 
war. As for the Baptists, they were not opposed 
to war (nearly the whole of Cromwell's army had 



210 RHODE ISLAND 

been Baptists), but as against the Puritans of 
Massachusetts they had received succor at the 
hands of the English government. It is not to be 
accounted strange if, in some instances, they were 
imbued with a patriotism that was but lukewarm. 

Throughout 1774 events fairly crowded to an 
issue. In May Providence (true to its reputation 
for initiative) passed resolutions proposing a Con- 
tinental Congress and instructing its deputies in 
the General Assembly to strive for a " Union " of 
the colonies. In June the Assembly adopted the 
Providence, and by this time also the Virginia and 
Massachusetts, idea, and named Stephen Hopkins 
and Samuel Ward as congressional delegates. In 
September Congress met in Philadelphia, passed a 
Declaration of Rights and various addresses, and 
signed an " Association " not to import any British 
manufactures or any East India Company tea 
after December 1, unless prior to that date Amer- 
ican grievances should have been redressed. In 
October, November, and December the Ehode 
Island militia was reorganized and the British 
frigate Eose took in Newport Harbor the place 
left vacant by the Gaspee. Meanwhile, despite the 
allowance of a certain amount by the General As- 
sembly upon the claims of Augustus Johnson, 
Martin Howard, Jr., and Dr. Thomas Moffat, the 
money due the colony from Great Britain was 
firmly withheld. 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 211 

The year 1775 opened with the battle of Lex- 
ington. Rhode Island was profoundly stirred by 
the news, and several hundred men set forth from 
Providence for the scene of action, but were turned 
back by a message reporting the retreat of the 
British. At Newport there was not only excite- 
ment but terror and confusion. On April 24 
Samuel Ward wrote from Westerly, counseling 
the " Messrs. Malbone ... to get their vessels to 
sea or out of New England with all speed," and 
on the 26th the Stiles diary records : " Two Ves- 
sels full of Passengers sailed this morn^ for Phila- 
delphia. The Town in great panic." 

The same day a couple of flour ships bound for 
Providence were stopped by the commander of the 
Rose, Captain James Wallace ; and John Brown, 
who owned the cargo, was detained and sent to 
General Gage at Boston to answer for his sus- 
pected connection with the Gaspee affair. It was 
no slight peril in which Brown was placed. His 
guilt was real, and what Gage might decide to do 
was doubly problematical since the day of Lexing- 
ton. But at this juncture John Brown's brother 
Moses (from whom the fact of John's culpability 
had been kept a fast secret) provided himself with 
letters to Gage, Admiral Graves, and Chief Justice 
Oliver, and set out for Boston. After some parley- 
ing with sentinels he was allowed to pass the 
lines. He saw Oliver, was presented to Graves, 
and in virtue of the fact that the late royal com- 



212 RHODE ISLAND 

mission had been unable to elicit anything action- 
able against the suspect, was accorded the latter*s 
release. The brothers returned to Providence 
mounted on one horse, John in the saddle and 
Moses en croupe^ and were welcomed with joyful 
demonstrations. The General Assembly, mean- 
while, had passed an act creating an army of ob- 
servation of fifteen hundred men, and had sus- 
pended from office Governor Joseph Wanton for 
protesting against their course. 

On May 10 Congress met (the second Con- 
tinental Congress) and in it Rhode Island quietly 
but resolutely took an important part. Hopkins 
and Ward once more were the delegates, and 
Samuel and John Adams were delegates from 
Massachusetts. In Stephen Hopkins Rhode Is- 
land possessed a man of the John Adams foresight 
and courage. In 1757 Hopkins had asked, " What 
have the King and Parliament to do with making 
a law or laws to govern us by any more than the 
Mohawks ? " In 1772 Adams had said, " There 
is no more justice left in Britain than there is in 
hell." During the first Congress Hopkins had af- 
firmed to a circle of delegates, " The gun and 
bayonet alone will finish the contest in which we 
are engaged." During the second Congress Adams 
was writing, " Powder and artillery are the most 
efficacious, sure, and infallible conciliatory mea- 
sures we can adopt." Nor were these words words 
merely. On June 15 John Adams nominated 



PORTENTS OF REVOLUTION 213 

George Washington commander-in-chief of the 
Continental forces. Already in May Khode Island 
had installed as commander of its forces Nathanael 
Greene. 

In August Rhode Island was ready for a further 
step. The General Assembly instructed its dele- 
gates in Congress to " use their whole influence " 
to secure the " building and equipping at the con- 
tinental expense of an American fleet." Supremely 
fitting was it that the proposition for the founding 
of a United States Navy should emanate from 
Rhode Island. As declared by the Assembly to 
King William in 1693, the colony was " a frontier 
[to the rest of New England] by sea ; " and from 
that time forth, through the wars of Queen Anne 
and the Georges, under the leadership of the Wan- 
tons, of Daniel Fones, of John Dennis, and of 
Abraham Whipple, Rhode Island had been for 
Britain a nursery of seamen and of daring. 

The naval proposition (after some persiflage on 
the part of Congress at the audacity of it) was 
seriously considered in October, 1775. By Feb- 
ruary, 1776, as a result of the labors of a " Ma- 
rine Committee," of which Stephen Hopkins was 
a member, there were ready two ships, the Alfred 
and Columbus, the first of twenty-four and the 
second of thirty-six guns ; two brigs, the Andrea 
Doria and Cabot, each of fourteen guns ; and four 
sloops, the Providence, Fly, Hornet, and Wasp. 
Of the fleet as a whole Esek Hopkins (a mariner 



214 RHODE ISLAND 

of experience) was made commander-in-chief. Of 
the several vessels, Abraham Whipple was made 
captain of the Columbus, and John B. Hopkins 
captain of the Cabot. These officers were Rhode 
Islanders all, and all, be it confessed, related either 
by blood or marriage to Stephen Hopkins of the 
Marine Committee. In March Commander-in- 
chief Hopkins was instructed to seek the enemy 
along the coast. He went, however, on a cruise to 
the Bahamas to capture such stores of needed 
powder and guns as might there be found. The 
expedition set sail from the Delaware capes on 
February 17, 1776, with John Paul Jones as first 
lieutenant of the Alfred. It made in due time a 
descent upon the island of New Providence, and, 
returning on April 8, brought some prisoners, a 
little powder, and about one hundred cannon. 

Ere this Rhode Island had discarded nearly 
every badge of colonialism. It had issued bills of 
credit for local defense; had established a local 
postal system ; had erected fortifications ; had con- 
fiscated the estates of wealthy loyalists of Newport 
and Narragansett ; had even at length deposed 
Governor Wanton and chosen Nicholas Cooke — 
a Providence man — governor in his stead. Only 
one thing remained to be done to make explicit 
the independence which by these acts had been 
implied, and that was to pass a declaration for- 
mally absolving the people of Rhode Island from 
their allegiance to the British crown. Such a de- 



POKTENTS OF KEVOLUTION 215 

claration was passed on May 4, just two months 
before the signing of the great Declaration at 
Philadelphia. 

Little by little, through acts of governmental 
interposition — several of them justifiable, some 
of them necessary, one of them (the Sugar Act) 
conspicuously a mistake — it had been brought to 
pass that the British American colony originally 
perhaps the most loyal of all to the crown was 
hopelessly alienated and estranged. 



CHAPTER XI 

RHODE ISLAND THE THEATRE OF WAR 

Esek Hopkins — The British at Newport — Seizure of General 
Prescott — Sullivan and D'Estaing — The Pigot Galley — Des- 
titution — Newport and the French. 

When last we saw the American squadron under 
Commander-in-chief Hopkins it had just returned 
from the Bahamas with captured stores and ord- 
nance. But the return voyage was not quite the 
triumphal progress that it might have been. 

On the morning of the 6th of April, about one 
o'clock, there was dimly descried off Point Judith 
a ship which proved to be his Majesty's ship Glas- 
gow, of twenty guns and one hundred and fifty men, 
commanded by Captain Tyringham Howe. This 
vessel, since the autumn of 1775, had been serving 
as consort to the Rose off Newport. By half -past 
two the Cabot had got near enough to hail, and an 
interchange of amenities in the form of broadsides 
took place. The result was that the Cabot was 
badly damaged and cut up. She lost four men 
killed and eight wounded ; among the latter, John 
B. Hopkins her captain. Next, the Alfred came 
into action. She lost her wheel-block and ropes, 
was several times raked, suffered a shot through 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 217 

the mainmast, received several shot under water, 
and lost four killed and seven wounded. With the 
Columbus it fared better ; on board her there was 
a loss of only one wounded. The Glasgow, mean- 
while, though considerably cut up aloft, had not 
been materially damaged. She had lost but one 
killed and three wounded, and had made good a 
retreat into Newport Harbor. 

In this combat, in which there were arrayed on 
the side of the British not more than twenty guns 
and one hundred and fifty men, and on the side of 
the Americans at least one hundred guns and seven 
hundred men, the honors were decidedly with the 
British. The Americans showed pluck, especially 
the crew of the Cabot under John B. Hopkins, but 
of the fleet as a whole there was no adequate dis- 
position or management. 

The ill success which attended the first encounter 
with the enemy on the part of Esek Hopkins pur- 
sued that officer ever afterwards. In August he 
was ordered on a cruise of£ the coast of Newfound- 
land, but could not enlist seamen sufficient for the 
undertaking ; and in October, for the same cause, 
he was unable to carry out an order to proceed to 
Cape Fear, North Carolina. Finally, in December, 
a large British fleet appeared in Narragansett Bay, 
and Hopkins found himself effectually blockaded 
(" bottled " the late General Ulysses S. Grant 
would have termed it), and his usefulness as a 
fleet commander at an end. Hopkins's own ac- 



218 EHODE ISLAND • 

count of his predicament at this time is little short 
of pitiful. He wrote : " We are now blocked up 
by the enemy's fleet, the officers and men are 
uneasy, however I shall not desert the cause but I 
wish with all my heart the Hon. Marine Board could 
and would get a man in my room that would do 
the Country more good than it is in my power to 
do." 

Hardly surprising is it that in August, 1776, 
Congress should have censured Hopkins ; that in 
March, 1777, it should have suspended him from 
his command ; and that in January, 1778, it should 
have dismissed him from the naval service alto- 
gether. He was described, in 1776, by Colonel 
(afterwards General) Henry Knox, as " an anti- 
quated figure " — a sort of belated Admiral Van 
Tromp. The description was meant to apply merely 
to his dress and bearing, but it really went deeper. 
The " commander-in-chief " (the American navy 
has had but one) was a well-meaning man, unre- 
sourcef ul and slack ; one of those upon whom mis- 
fortunes seem to descend by sheer force of natural 
attraction. 

It is not to be gainsaid that in seeking to re-man 
his ships, after his return from New Providence, 
Hopkins met with genuine perplexity. He was 
forced to compete for seamen with the owners and 
captains of privateering craft, and at a distinct 
disadvantage. The situation was as follows : In 
December, 1775, Congress, while hastily fitting out 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 219 

a squadron for Hopkins, ordered the construction 
of thirteen vessels, — five of thirty-two guns, five 
of twenty-eight, and three of twenty-four. Two of 
the vessels — the Providence and Warren — were 
to be built in Rhode Island. The work was placed 
in the hands of a committee of the leading men of 
Providence : Nicholas Cooke, Nicholas Brown, 
Joseph Russell, Joseph Brown, John Brown, Daniel 
Tillinghast, John Innes Clarke, Joseph Nightin- 
gale, Jabez Bowen, and Rufus Hopkins. But, 
though the ships were to be finished by April, 
1776, and though the committee having them in 
charge was thoroughly competent, the work lagged. 
Why? 

In March, 1776, Congress had passed an act au- 
thorizing the issuing of letters of marque against 
Eno:lish commerce. Soon afterwards the Rhode 
Island General Assembly had passed an act pro- 
viding for the issuing of such letters within its 
jurisdiction, and creating an Admiralty Court for 
the condemnation of prizes. The old Narragan- 
sett viking and individualistic spirit of the French 
and Spanish wars was at once aroused. Every- 
thing else was neglected, and privateering be- 
came the business of the day. Providence had 
been rebuking the unpatriotic covetousness of New- 
port as disclosed in a failure to observe the non- 
importation agreement. Now Providence itself, 
even to its distinguished committee of Browns, 
Russells, Clarkes, and Nightingales, was guilty of a 



220 RHODE ISLAND 

like self-seeking. In fact, to sucli lengths did tlie 
committee carry its disregard of national interests, 
that members of it (John Brown in particular) 
were permitted to divert to their own use, in the 
construction of privateers, labor and materials de- 
signed for the government work. Of this fact 
Hopkins, who, weak though he may have been, was 
thoroughly honest, complained bitterly to the Ma- 
rine Board, and the Providence committee in high 
indignation resigned its powers. 

Matters did not improve. The privateers, with 
their roving commissions and chances for lucrative 
gains, took all the seamen ; and when the sorely 
beset commander-in-chief sought, through the leg- 
islature, to lay an embargo on enlistments until his 
own ships should be manned, the Browns, Russells, 
and others were able to circumvent him. During 
a period of less than five months in the year 1776 
there were commissioned from Rhode Island six- 
ty-five privateers. On November 12, 1776, Dr. 
Stiles records (probably with little exaggeration ; 
at figures and calculations the doctor was un- 
wearied) : " It has been computed that this War 
by prizes by building ships of War & the Navy 
has already within a year and a half brought into 
Providence near Three Hundred Thousand Ster- 
ling ; which is double the Property of the whole 
Town two years ago." 

In the end — that is, by December, 1776 — an 
embargo on enlistments by merchantmen and pri- 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 221 

vateers fitting out in Narragansett Bay proved to 
be unavoidable, and an act to that effect was ac- 
cordingly placed upon tbe Rhode Island statute 
book. 

The departure from Boston, in June, 1776, of 
the British force under General Sir William Howe 
marked the close of the preliminary stage of the 
Revolution. Down to this time the attitude of 
Great Britain toward America had been that of a 
mother country temporizing with rebellious de- 
pendencies ; particularly with that set of depend- 
encies (New England) where the spirit of rebellion 
was strongest. With the concentration of British 
fleets and armies at New York — a concentration 
which, between June and August, took place under 
Admiral Lord Howe and General Howe — the Brit- 
ish attitude changed to that of a foreign power 
seeking to cut in twain (along the main artery, 
the Hudson River) a hostile territory. This effort 
marked the crisis of the Revolution. For Rhode 
Island it was characterized by the lodgment upon 
its soil and in its waters of a force advantageously 
placed either for cooperating by way of Long 
Island Sound with the British force at New York, 
or for penetrating into New England and subduing 
that section after the task of separating it from 
the middle colonies had been achieved. 

In March, 1776, Samuel Ward had died of 
small-pox at Philadelphia, and in September of the 



222 RHODE ISLAND 

same year Stephen Hopkins, grown quite infirm, 
had ceased to attend the sessions of the Conti- 
nental Congress. In the place of Ward, and as 
coadjutors of Hopkins, there now were appointed 
William Ellery Qfils) and Henry Marchant. Fear 
that the British had planned a descent upon New- 
port began seriously to be felt in Khode Island in 
November, 1776 ; and on December 2 news was 
received by way of Watch Hill in Westerly that 
" eleven sail of square rigged vessels [under Sir 
Peter Parker] were standing in between Block 
Island and Montauk Point." On December 7, 
Parker's squadron (comprising seven ships of the 
line and four frigates), together with a convoy of 
seventy transports carrying six thousand troops, 
anchored off Middletown. 

Precipitate was the withdrawal from the island 
of Rhode Island of the single battalion by which it 
was defended, and of a considerable part of the 
inhabitants. The General Assembly met, and, in 
pursuance of its measures, a convention of the New 
England States was held at Providence on Decem- 
ber 25. By this body (under the presidency of 
Stephen Hopkins) it was resolved to muster from 
New England six thousand men, and place them 
under the direction of the Continental general com- 
manding in Rhode Island. At about the same time 
William Ellery wrote from his place in Congress 
urging an attack upon the British at Newport, and 
stating that Washington had appointed Generals 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 223 

Benedict Arnold and Joseph Spencer to take com- 
mand in New England. It had been hoped to ob- 
tain for the post either Gates or Greene. 

Neither Arnold nor Spencer effected anything 
toward the reduction of the island. The British 
force there was composed of five British regiments 
— four of infantry and one of artillery, and four 
Hessian regiments of infantry, one of which was 
the celebrated Anspachers. The principal officers 
were General Sir Henry Clinton, Lieutenant Gen- 
eral Hugh Earl Percy, and Brigadier-General 
Richard Prescott. Some of the Newport loyal- 
ists ere this time had suffered rustication to the 
mainland, but that a goodly number had not is to 
be inferred from the fact that an address of duty 
and loyalty to George III was now signed by four 
hundred and fifty-four freeholders of the town. 
A like address was signed by the freeholders and 
inhabitants of Jamestown, and by the Newport 
" society of those called Quakers." 

In January, 1777, Sir Henry Clinton was re- 
called to England, and in May of the same year 
he was followed by Earl Percy. The command at 
Khode Island, therefore, devolved upon General 
Prescott. Not long afterwards (in July) the gen- 
eral was made the victim of a piece of Yankee 
temerity which in its day caused a very great sen- 
sation indeed. 

Prescott's headquarters at Newport were in the 



224 EHODE ISLAND 

Bannister house (still standing), but the general, 
as something of a high liver and roiie^ was accus- 
tomed to frequent the house of a loyalist named 
Overing, which was situated on the west side of 
the island near the Redwood villa. At this time 
there was stationed at Tiverton, as major of an 
American regiment under Colonel Joseph Stanton, 
a young man, the son of a hatter of Warren, Wil- 
liam Barton. Barton was observing, reflective, full 
of patriotism and daring, and when, from desert- 
ers, he learned of the practice on the part of Gen- 
eral Prescott of paying nocturnal visits to the 
Overing house, the news stimulated him to attempt 
the execution of a plan which he for some time 
had been maturing. The plan was to seize and 
make prisoner of Prescott by way of retaliation for 
the seizure of General Charles Lee effected a few 
months before by the British. 

Barton confided his views to Colonel Stanton, 
and by him was authorized to carry them out. From 
a multitude eager for service he carefully selected 
forty men, and with them, on July 5 and 6, pro- 
ceeded in five whale-boats to Bristol. The men 
knew nothing as to the errand on which they were 
embarked, but on reaching Bristol they were or- 
dered to row out to Hog Island, where, after being 
sworn to secrecy, the errand was disclosed to 
them. Thunder-storms were now almost a daily 
occurrence, and it was not until the evening of 
July 7 that the party got to Warwick Neck, 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 225 

whence the expedition was to start. It was not 
until the night of the 9th that a start actually was 
made. 

The boats crept stealthily between the islands of 
Patience and Prudence, stole as stealthily down 
the west shore of Prudence past Hope (near which 
riding at anchor was a part of the British fleet) ; 
rounded the large island and swept rapidly across 
to their destination. The men landed, marched a 
mile to the Overing house and secured the single 
sentinel on guard. They then forced the main door, 
found Prescott, after some search, sitting bewil- 
dered in a lower chamber on the side of his bed, 
and, permitting him to don merely his waistcoat, 
breeches, and slippers, marched him off, along with 
his aide, Major Barrington, and the sentinel, to the 
boats. " You have made a damned bold push to- 
night," remarked Prescott as he was being hurried 
along. After embarkation, as the lights of the fleet 
opened to view, he said : " I did not think it pos- 
sible you could escape the vigilance of the water 
guards." 

Prescott while a prisoner in Rhode Island was 
quartered at Providence, and it adds not a little to 
the picturesqueness of the episode of his capture 
that on his arrival he (aged coxcomb that he was) 
sent for Providence's learned barber, John How- 
land (of whom in these pages more anon), to dress 
his hair ; and that shortly there came from New- 
port a flag of truce bearing the general's entire 



226 RHODE ISLAND 

wardrobe — his purse, his hair powder, and a plen- 
tiful supply of perfumery. 

To Barton and his men there was voted by the 
Rhode Island General Assembly a sum of money, 
and Barton himself was rewarded at the hands of 
Congress by promotion and the gift of a sword. 

In consonance with the British plan of separating 
New England from the rest of the American Union, 
General John Burgoyne had, about June 1, 1777, 
been dispatched from Canada with an army of 
nearly eight thousand men on a peregrination south- 
ward by way of Lake Champlain to Albany. There 
he was to be joined by Sir William Howe from New 
York. Burgoyne's orders did not permit him to 
digress with his main column, but, learning that the 
Americans had accumulated stores at Bennington 
[Vermont] , he deemed it expedient to detach Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Baum with Rwe hundred men (in- 
creased afterwards to a thousand) to destroy them. 
Baum afterwards was to advance across the country 
to Springfield, Massachusetts, a point at which he 
was assured " he would be met by his Majesty's 
forces from Rhode Island.'* The fight led by John 
Stark at Bennington on August 16 put an end to 
the advance of Baum, and the surrender to Gates 
on October 17 by Burgoyne himself removed all 
fear of an immediate severance of New England 
from the West. 

So far as Rhode Island itself was concerned, the 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 227 

British (in the expressive words of the General As- 
sembly) still were lodged in its very " bowels," and 
an attack on Providence was apprehended. Gen- 
eral Spencer resigned his command in December, 
1777, and in February, 1778, Washington, comply- 
ing with an order of Congress to name a successor, 
promptly named General John Sullivan. Greene, 
had it been felt by Washington that he then could 
be spared from New York, would gladly have ac- 
cepted the place, and indeed had been urged by 
Ellery to apply for it. 

It was in April that Sullivan took charge of his 
new department. He found Sir Robert Pigot in 
the stead of Prescott, and in May Pigot sent an 
expedition against Warren and Bristol. It was Sul- 
livan's intention to attack the British at Newport 
as soon as he should succeed in assembling a suffi- 
cient force. Celerity was imparted to his movements 
by news received in eTuly that a French fleet under 
Vice-Admiral Comte d'Estaing was upon the coast, 
and that Rhode Island would be the fleet's destina- 
tion. 

Of the three American seaports held by the Brit- 
ish in June, 1778, — Philadelphia, New York, and 
Newport, — Philadelphia had now been evacuated. 
There therefore remained only New York and New- 
port for D'Estaing to choose between as objectives, 
and, as New York proved impracticable of ap- 
proach by reason of the draught of the count's ves- 
sels, Newport became the objective from necessity. 



228 RHODE ISLAND 

On July 23 General Greene, with fine imagina- 
tive realization of the historic significance of what 
was about to take place, wrote to Sullivan from 
White Plains : " You are the most happy man in 
the world. . . . You are the first general that has 
ever had an opportunity of cooperating with the 
French forces belonging to the United States. The 
character of the American soldiers, as well as of 
their officers, will be formed from the conduct of 
the troops and the success of this expedition. . . . 
I wish most ardently to be with you. . . . I charge 
you to he mctoriousy In the same letter Greene 
let his correspondent into the secret that Gates 
(more exalted than ever since the surrender of Bur- 
goyne) had himself sought from Washington the 
distinction of being the first American general to 
cooperate with the French. 

In the movement against Newport Washington 
sent to Sullivan's aid (under the Marquis de 
Lafayette) the Continental brigades, some two 
thousand strong, of John Glover and James M. 
Yarnum. He gave to General Greene and to 
Colonel John Laurens (the dashing son of Henry 
Laurens, President of Congress) leave to partici- 
pate, and by August 4 men and officers were 
in the vicinity of Providence. As for the French 
fleet, — composed of twelve ships of the line and 
four frigates, — it had arrived off Newport on July 
29. 

The position of the British on the island of 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 229 

Ehode Island (a position held now by about six 
thousand men) was exceedingly strong. It con- 
stituted a right angle of which Newport formed 
the apex, the sea on either hand the sides, and of 
which the mouth from side to side was completely 
subtended by two lines of works, one a mile within 
the other. As supplementary, moveover, to the 
main position, there was Butts Hill at the north 
end of the island. It commanded both Bristol and 
Rowland's ferries and had been carefully fortified. 
So strong was the British position that successfully 
to attack it by land alone was, for a force not 
markedly superior to the garrison, difficult in the 
extreme. Any column of moderate strength which 
should leave Butts Hill in its rear would be likely 
to have its communications severed. Any such col- 
umn that should pause to capture the hill was 
likely to be taken in rear by a relieving force from 
Newport. 

All these difficulties at once vanished if the at- 
tacking army held command of the sea. To com- 
mand the sea was to command the British rear, 
and it was with a view to the advantages of a rear 
as well as front attack that D'Estaing on July 29 
(the day of his arrival) urged preparations for im- 
mediate action. But at this time the American 
general had with him practically no troops at all. 
Lafayette did not arrive with the Continental bri- 
gades until August 4, and the militia were muster- 
ing slowly. Had an attack been made forthwith, 



230 EHODE ISLAND 

it must have been made almost wholly by the 
French force of about twenty-eight hundred ma- 
rines, the inadequacy of which was obvious for 
operations in rear alone. 

In any event, the task first to be performed was 
to clear the bay of British war-vessels. It proved 
not difQcult, for on the appearance of ships from 
the French fleet in the west, middle, and east 
passages, the British ships (ten in number) were 
burned or blown up. Next it was decided that on 
August 10 — a date satisfactory to Sullivan — 
there should be effected, simultaneously, a landing 
by the French marines on the west side of the 
island of Rhode Island, and by the Americans on 
the east side. The garrison on Butts Hill would 
thus be cut off, and the way to Newport would be 
cleared. On August 8 D'Estaing ran the batteries 
at the entrance to Newport Harbor. But by the 
morning of the 9th the Butts Hill garrison had 
been withdrawn ; so Sullivan at once transferred 
his force — now by the influx of the New England 
militia raised to ten thousand men — to the island. 
The same day D'Estaing began disembarking his 
marines on Conanicut to move to Sullivan's sup- 
port. The British were completely trapped. Their 
front and flanks were menaced by the Americans 
and the marines ; their rear was at the mercy of 
the French fleet. 

Before the disembarking of the marines was 
completed, however, Admiral Lord Howe, with 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 231 

thirteen ships of the line and seven frigates, came 
in sight off Point Judith. D'Estaing, in order 
himself not to be trapped in turn, put to sea to 
meet Howe. A storm of wind and rain arose, and 
though upon the subsidence of the elements some 
bloody ship duels took place, both fleets (on August 
20) were forced into harbor : the British at New 
York, and the French at Newport. 

Sullivan, meanwhile, in daily expectation of the 
return of D'Estaing, had advanced his army down 
the east side of the island, and from Hony man's 
Hill was assailing the British works with an effec- 
tive cannonade. He was thus engaged on the 20th 
of the month when the French fleet, battered and 
in part dismantled, reached port. What was his 
astonishment to be told that D'Estaing, instead of 
returning to give aid, had done so to announce his 
determination to go to Boston to refit. Nothing 
remained to be done save vehemently to protest at 
the course of the French admiral (a proceeding in 
which Lafayette would not join, and which it after- 
wards took no little diplomacy to smooth over), 
and either to storm the British lines or retreat. 
To storm, with the militia deserting in shoals as 
now was the case, was manifestly out of the ques- 
tion. Retreat began on August 28, and the so- 
called battle of Rhode Island, which occurred on 
August 29 in the depression between Quaker and 
Butts hills, was simply a spirited repulse by the 
Americans of the pursuing British ; a repulse dur- 



232 RHODE ISLAND 

ing the infliction of which Lafayette, with fiery- 
zeal, was riding a-gallop to Boston to make a last 
vain appeal to D'Estaing for the return of the 
fleet ; and at the end of which the American army, 
under cover of night and without loss, was con- 
veyed over Rowland's Ferry to the heights of 
Tiverton.^ 

The departure of D'Estaing — by reason of the 
loss of the command of the sea thereby entailed, 
and so of access to the British rear — had brought 
failure to the Sullivan expedition : an expedition 
the first fruit of the Franco-American alliance ; 
one the success of which would have rivaled that 
of the capture of Burgoyne ; one, therefore, that 
might have led to an acknowledgment of American 
independence. No wonder that Greene, in his July 
letter to Sullivan, had said : " / charge you to he 
victorious.''^ 

To Rhode Islanders in general the withdrawal 
from before Newport was a step full of dishearten- 
ment. The discriminating refused to blame Sulli- 
van, but there were those that were not so con- 
siderate. Such an one was our acquaintance John 

1 In February, 1778, the General Assembly passed an act per- 
mitting- the enlistment in Rhode Island of "neg-ro, mulatto, or 
Indian man slaves." Under this act two battalions of negroes 
(slave and free together) were forthwith raised, and they partici- 
pated in the battle of Rhode Island. It has been customary to 
ascribe prowess to these battalions, but the investigations of Mr. 
S. S. Rider {Hist. Tract. No. 10) have proved that the negroes 
acquitted themselves with little distinction. Indeed, in July, 1780, 
tlie Assembly forbade any further enlistments of negroes. 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 233 

Brown — John Brown, author of the destruction of 
the Gaspee, postponer of government to private 
advantage, source of solicitude upon all occasions 
to his brother Moses. And what, in his disgust at 
still being forced to run his privateers past Brit- 
ish batteries, John Brown did, was to write a let- 
ter to General Greene, in which he pronounced the 
late expedition " the worst concerted and the most 
disgracefully executed of any during the war." It 
is gratifying to know that Greene's reply, after a 
careful review of events, was this : " I cannot help 
feeling mortified that those that have been at home 
making their fortune, and living in the lap of lux- 
ury, and enjoying all the pleasures of domestic 
life, should be the first to sport with the feelings 
of officers who have stood as a barrier between 
them and ruin." 

By far the most brilliant local naval exploit of 
the year 1778 was the opening of the east passage 
of Narragansett Bay through the capture, by Ma- 
jor Silas Talbot, of the Pigot galley. 

In 1776 Talbot, a Bristol youth residing at 
Providence, had performed on the Hudson Eiver 
the daring feat of piloting a fire-ship against the 
Asia, a British sixty-four gun vessel. Ever since 
that time Henry Marchant (to whom very likely 
there was familiar also the thrilling story of the 
fire-ships of Antwerp) had been a zealous advocate 
of the use of such craft against the blockaders near 



234 RHODE ISLAND 

Newport. But while, in deference to Marchant, it 
had been arranged in August, 1777, to send out 
six large fire-vessels from Providence, Talbot in 
October, 1778, conceived a surer plan. 

With the consent of General Sullivan, he fitted 
out with two three-pounders and sixty men a coast- 
ing sloop (the Hawk) in which to make an attack 
on the Pigot galley by night. In order to reach 
the galley, it was necessary to pass two British 
batteries : one on the south side of Bristol Ferry, 
and the other on the west side of Fogland Ferr}^. 
The first battery was passed without damage, 
though not without discovery, and refuge was 
taken in Taunton River. Here Talbot found him- 
self obliged to await a change of wind, and he im- 
proved the interval by riding down the east coast 
to a point in Little Compton opposite the galley, 
where, with a glass, he was able to make a study 
of that craft. She was a stout brig of two hundred 
tons, from which the upper deck had been removed, 
and upon the lower deck of which there had been 
mounted eight twelve-pounders and ten swivels. 
Furthermore, she was protected all around by a 
boarding net of unusual height. 

As a result of his survey, Talbot asked for and 
obtained a reinforcement of fifteen men under 
Lieutenant John Helme. On the night of October 
28 he slipped silently past the battery at Fogland 
Ferry, and then made all sail. Fearing after some 
time that he might have missed the galley in the 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 235 

darkness, he anchored and sought the blockader 
in a boat. She soon loomed up massively ahead, 
and Talbot, carefully noting her position, returned 
to the Hawk. The latter was then directed at 
full speed against her antagonist. The oncoming 
sloop was loudly hailed from the galley, and then 
greeted with a volley of musketry; but soon the 
jib-boom of the Hawk, which had been armed 
with a kedge anchor, tore a wide hole in the gal- 
ley's net, and Talbot and his men were enabled to 
leap on board. 

There was little or no struggle. The crew of the 
Pigot all fled below. Only the young commander, 
Lieutenant Dunlop, made a serious show of fight, 
and he, like Dudingston of the Gaspee, was quickly 
overpowered. When he found that he had been 
vanquished by a sloop armed with three-pounders 
and with but two of these, he threw himself in tears 
upon the deck, lamenting the loss of his chances 
of promotion, — an exhibition of natural feeling 
with which Talbot was altogether too generous 
not to sympathize. 

Elation in Rhode Island over the capture of the 
Pigot galley was quickly followed by most intense 
anxiety regarding the means of subsistence. Al- 
ready in July, 1777, at a convention of the New 
England States held at Springfield, resolutions 
had been passed on the money question, — the 
resolutions referred to in chapter iii. Others were 



236 RHODE ISLAND 

passed against State embargoes on food stuffs, 
and against the practice of " forestalling " or 
" cornering " the market. So far, however, as em- 
bargoes were concerned, the action taken had ac- 
complished little, and in January, 1779, William 
Greene — governor in succession to Nicholas 
Cooke and a son of the William Greene who had 
served as governor in the days of the land banks 
— found it incumbent upon him to write a letter 
of earnest appeal to Connecticut. 

The winter was one of appalling severity. More 
than a thousand refugees from Newport were on 
the mainland in a condition of almost complete 
destitution. " Our situation," wrote Governor 
Greene, " is perhaps somewhat similar to that of 
the good old patriarch Jacob and his numerous 
family (a little republic) when he sent into Egypt 
to buy a supply of corn, saving in this that he found 
no embargo to prevent his purpose." Connecticut 
was then solemnly adjured to remember that 
"whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, 
he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard." 
Be it said at once that Connecticut did not prove 
recreant. At an early session of its General As- 
sembly it granted generous relief. And not only 
in this way was Ehode Island helped. In the fol- 
lowing summer General Gates, who had been 
appointed to succeed Sullivan in the eastern de- 
partment, sent Talbot, in the sloop Argo, to clear 
Long Island Sound of loyalist privateers, which in 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 237 

great numbers were hindering the importation of 
grain, and never was task of the kind more effec- 
tively performed. 

D'Estaing, after a long sojourn at Boston — a 
sojourn enlivened by the unwearied hospitalities of 
John Hancock — set sail in November, 1778, with 
his fleet for the West Indies. In January, 1779, 
Lafayette sailed for France. From the West Indies 
D'Estaing went to Savannah, and thence home. 
Never again did he behold America. In France he, 
like others of the period, sought to secure reforms 
while avoiding revolution, and his fate was what 
might have been expected. He died by the guillo- 
tine in 1794. As for Lafayette, his heart and 
mind were absorbed in the American cause, and 
it was through him chiefly that the French gov- 
ernment was induced to send to America, in the 
spring of 1780, an earnest of substantial succor in 
the form of fifty-five hundred regular troops, com- 
manded by Lieutenant-General Comte de Rocham- 
beau, and convoyed by six ships of the line under 
Admiral Chevalier de Ternay. 

Newport was evacuated by the British in Octo- 
ber, 1779. When, therefore, in July, 1780, De 
Ternay^ (whose orders, inspired by Lafayette, 
were to land in Ehode Island) came to anchor off 

1 Admiral de Ternay died at Newport in December, 1780. His 
monument lends to-day a contemplative interest to the interior of 
Trinity Church. 



238 RHODE ISLAND 

Brenton's Point, there was no enemy to gainsay 
him. 

It was a brilliant and distinguished group of 
Frenchmen that for a year graced the social circle 
of Newport. There was first of all Rochambeau 
himself quartered in the stately William Yernon 
house ; a man not striking of stature but keen-vis- 
aged and able to discuss in creditable Latin with 
Dr. Ezra Stiles (now President of Yale College) 
the capture of Andrd. Next there were Rocham- 
beau's three marecJiaux-de-camp^ with quarters at 
Mr. Joseph Wanton's, — the two Viomenils, fair 
haired and tall, and the Chevalier de Chastellux, 
member of the Academy, and pronounced by those 
with a taste for letters " the glory of the army." 
Aides, too, and officers of varied rank (among 
them the Due de Lauzun, famed for his amours) 
were domiciled with the Levis, the Malbones, the 
Kedwoods, the Wards, the Hazards, the Free- 
bodys, the Riveras, and the Coggeshalls. And 
what was more, these men (as William Channing 
noted upon their arrival) were found to be not at 
all "the effeminate Beings we were heretofore 
taught to believe them, but as large & as likely as 
can be produced by any nation." 

Nor, in turn, did the social resources of Newport 
prove inadequate to the unusual demands thus 
made upon them. The beauty and grace of the 
women — always notable — more than ever were 
notable now ; so much so, in fact, that the French 



THE THEATRE OF WAR 239 

gentlemen who met Polly Lawton the Quakeress, 
or Margaret and Mary Champlin, or Mehetable 
Eedwood, or the Misses Hunter, or the Misses 
Ellery, were apt quite to forego words of soberness 
in describing their impressions. A certain fashion- 
able Newport diversion, however, — that of copious 
tea-drinking, — gave pause even to Gallic politeness. 
Not only was the practice amiably satirized by 
Abbe Robin, but the story was told how a French 
officer, after heroically imbibing what seemed to 
him quarts of the insipid beverage, burst forth 
to his hostess : " I shall veesh to send zat servante 
to helle for breenging me so much hot vater to 
dreenk." 

The pleasure of the French occupation of Rhode 
Island was not confined to Newport. A share fell 
to Providence. Many a gallant Gaul yielded hom- 
age in the old home of Polly Olney to the charms 
of that coquettish damsel's worthy successors, — the 
Misses Bowen, Miss Waity Arnold, and Miss Sally 
Church. The erudite Chastellux alone waxed cen- 
sorious. He wrote : " The hair of the feminine 
American head is raised and supported upon cush- 
ions to an extravagant height, somewhat resem- 
bling the manner in which French ladies wore 
their hair some years ago." 

In March, 1781, Washington (not in the best 
of humors, it is said) came to Newport to confer 
with Rochambeau, and the honors vouchsafed to 
him by the French were of the most elaborate 



240 RHODE ISLAND 

kind — those, in a word, as Dr. Stiles observed at 
the time, accorded only to a marshal of France. 
The fleet thundered a salute ; the general, with 
Rochambeau unbonneted on his left, walked from 
Long Wharf between a double line of soldiers to 
the State House, and thence to the count's head- 
quarters in the Vernon house. In the evening 
there was an illumination of the town. Later a 
great ball was given, and Washington, choosing for 
a partner the radiant Margaret Champlin, asked 
her to select the dance. That lady, with a tact that 
threw the French officers present into an ecstasy of 
delight, selected " A Successful Campaign." And 
a successful campaign it proved. Washington, 
departing westward, ere long was followed by the 
army of Rochambeau; and, on October 14, 1781, 
Yorktown (into which the distinguished Rhode 
Islander, Nathanael Greene, had edged Cornwallis 
from the Carolinas) was taken by assault, with 
Stephen Olney of Rhode Island commanding a 
detachment at the head of the storming column. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE FEDEEAL CONSTITUTION 

The Articles of Confederation — David Howell and the Impost 
Measures — Ratification of the Great Instrument. 

To the Articles of Confederation, submitted by 
Congress to the States for ratification in Novem- 
ber, 1777, Kliode Island bad acceded in February, 
1778. Such promptitude in the adoption of a 
scheme of joint political action on the part of a 
commonwealth opposed traditionally to any scheme 
of the kind was due to the necessities of war, but it 
was due also to saving clauses of the articles in 
question. Not only did the articles expressly re- 
serve to each State its " sovereignty, freedom, and 
independence ; " they made the reservation effec- 
tive by inhibiting Congress from regulating the 
commerce of a State with other States or with for- 
eign countries, and from levying upon a State or 
its people either direct or indirect taxation. How 
completely the Articles of Confederation (which 
could be amended only with the consent of aU the 
States) marked the extreme limit of willing ap- 
proach by Rhode Island to a system of Federal 
control was to be strikingly demonstrated in the 
period embraced between the years 1781 and 1791. 



242 RHODE ISLAND 

On February 3, 1781, while the French still 
were in occupation of Newport, Congress advised 
the States that it was absolutely indispensable, to 
the end of meeting the public obligations, that it 
be vested with power to impose a duty of five per 
cent ad valorem on all goods (with enumerated 
exceptions) to be imported into the United States 
after the first of May. Robert Morris was then 
chosen Superintendent of Finance, and the course 
of events anxiously awaited. Among the congres- 
sional delegates from Rhode Island was James M, 
Varnum. Born in Massachusetts, he was so little 
of a Rhode Islander in spirit that, writing to Gov- 
ernor Greene in April, 1781, he conceived it no 
impropriety to suggest that a national " conven- 
tion " ought to be called " to revise and reform 
the Articles of Confederation, to define the aggre- 
gate powers of the United States in Congress as- 
sembled, to fix the executive departments and 
ascertain their authorities." Indeed, so little of 
a Rhode Islander was he that, writing again in 
August, he said : " We are at a loss to conjecture 
the rumors which have induced the State of Rhode 
Island to delay complying with the requisition of 
Congress, respecting the five per cent duty." 

At the close of 1781, when Varnum returned 
home, his perplexity over the " delay " by Rhode 
Island in authorizing the five per cent duty was 
removed. In January, 1782, the pen of " Dixit 
Senex " declared in the columns of the Providence 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 243 

" Gazette " that while " Congress may call on us 
for money, it cannot prescribe to us methods of 
raising it." In this statement there was condensed 
the whole Rhode Island doctrine. The Narragan- 
sett Bay commonwealth had withheld its approval 
of the proposed tariff for the reason that it per- 
ceived in it a limitation upon its autonomy. Even 
in colonial days — the days of its nonage — Rhode 
Island had been the most restive of all the colonies 
under the regulations of British commercial policy. 
Why, therefore, after it had just freed itself from 
the plague of outside tariffs and outside collectors, 
should it, through an authorization to Congress of 
a five per cent duty, re-subject itself to tyranny ? So 
argued " Dixit Senex." 

To " Senex " Varnum replied forcibly, but with 
the result of calling into the field of debate the 
keenest and best equipped champion of the pe- 
culiar political ideas of Rhode Island which that 
commonwealth has ever possessed — David Howell. 
Both Varnum and Howell have come within our 
ken as they stood a few years later — the one a 
powerful advocate at the bar, and the other a 
courageous and discriminating judge upon the 
bench ; but at the moment Howell was a young 
lawyer of Providence unknown to fame. Upon 
his graduation from Princeton in 1766 he had 
come to town at the earnest request of James 
Manning, and had since filled the chair of natural 
philosophy in Brown University. His literary style 



244 RHODE ISLAND 

was fluent, flexible, and trenchant, and at the end 
of his controversy with Varnum he became widely 
enough known to be elected to Congress. 

The conditions which confronted him in that 
body were not encouraging. Eleven States had 
signified their more or less cordial approval of the 
projected tariff or impost. Only Georgia and 
Ehode Island were holding back, and of these 
Georgia was not fixed in resolution. In order to 
bring matters to a head. Congress appointed a com- 
mittee to inquire of the two States why they had 
not pursued the course of the other States. At the 
sessions of this committee Robert Morris attended 
and Howell appeared for Rhode Island. The ob- 
jections by Howell to the impost were four in num- 
ber : (1) that the revenue raised by it would go 
to the United States, whereas in the case of Rhode 
Island (a maritime community) any such revenue 
ought to go to the State alone ; (2) that the war 
had so wasted the shores of Narragansett Bay that 
it was needful for Rhode Island to conserve every 
source of income ; (3) that a sovereign State should 
itself collect all taxes levied within its borders ; 
and (4) that the duration of the proposed impost 
was indefinite and might be made perpetual. In 
modification of the measure as it stood, Howell 
suggested clauses providing for the deduction of the 
proceeds of the impost from the annual quota of 
Continental requisitions upon a State and for collec- 
tion by officers locally chosen. 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 245 

A careful reply to Howell was submitted by- 
Robert Morris to Governor William Greene on 
August 2, but without result ; and in October 
Congress, under tbe leadership of Alexander Ham- 
ilton and James Madison, passed a resolution de- 
manding from both Georgia and Rhode Island an 
explicit avowal as to whether they would or would 
not approve the impost. 

The crisis drew from Howell one of his most 
telling appeals to his constituency. It bore date 
October 15 and began thus : " The object of a 
seven years' war has been to preserve the liberties 
of this country. ... It has been on our part a 
contest for freedom — not for power ! . . . We 
know your early, continued, and persevering zeal 
in your country's cause. We cannot doubt your 
firmness. To quicken your memory, awaken your 
feelings, and to Rx your attention, is the object of 
this letter." The abiding arguments of particularism 
against authority were then lucidly rehearsed, and 
the State was abjured not to take the irrevocable 
step of sanctioning the impost if it had '' a single 
remaining doubt." With Howell's plea before it, 
the Rhode Island General Assembly met at East 
Greenwich on the last Monday in October, 1782, 
and on November 1 voted unanimously against the 
impost plan. 

The struggle between Rhode Island and Con- 
gress over the impost was now given a turn not a 
little dramatic. Howell had been in the practice 



246 RHODE ISLAND 

of writing to John Carter, publisher of the Provi- 
dence " Gazette," upon the proceedings of Congress. 
From one of his letters a paragraph stating that 
the credit of the United States abroad was such 
that " of late they had failed in no application for 
loans " had appeared in print on November 2. 
Indignant at the course of Howell (who was held 
responsible for the course of Rhode Island), Ham- 
ilton and Madison were stirred to the quick by this 
statement concerning the public credit — a state- 
ment designed to belittle the need of an impost — 
and proceedings were set on foot to discredit 
Howell in his own State. 

On December 18 the Rhode Island delegate 
introduced in Congress a resolution avowing and 
justifying the " Gazette " paragraph and challen- 
ging criticism of himself. On December 20 Hamil- 
ton and Madison, as members of a committee of 
inquiry which had been appointed, recommended 
that Howell's resolution " be transmitted by the 
Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Executive of 
the State of Rhode Island with an authentic copy 
of the several applications for foreign loans, and 
the result thereof." Over the recommendation a 
sharp struggle ensued. It was short as well as 
sharp, for at nearly every turn the vote of Rhode 
Island was left unsupported. 

In undertaking, however, to influence Rhode Is- 
land by discrediting its chief delegate, it soon be- 
came apparent that Congress had erred profoundly. 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 247 

In February, 1783, the General Assembly of the 
State passed resolutions indorsing unreservedly 
Howell's entire conduct. Nor did the indorsement 
prove to be less hearty in view of the circumstance 
that for six weeks the celebrated Thomas Paine, 
with headquarters at Providence, had been plead- 
ing eloquently the cause of Congress in the Rhode 
Island press. 

Interest in the congressional debate of 1782 over 
the impost attaches in a peculiar degree to the 
individuals concerned. That a professor of natural 
philosophy should so brilliantly have withstood the 
embittered opposition of the superb Hamilton and 
astute Madison can but excite admiration. Hamil- 
ton and Madison supported each other and were 
both supported by Congress. Howell, save for the 
countenance of his colleague Jonathan Arnold, faced 
argument and enmity alone. The position of the 
Rhode Islander at this time was almost exactly that 
of John C. Calhoun (his intellectual compeer) in 
1833, when, unsustained save by South Carolina, 
Calhoun threatened nullification and incurred the 
wrath of Andrew Jackson. 

Howell was returned to Congress in 1783 and 
also in 1784. In the latter year, as in 1782, 
Rhode Island was made the object of attentions 
the reverse of flattering. Congress in 1783 had 
again proposed a five per cent duty. It was to 
be collected by locally appointed officers and to 



248 RHODE ISLAND 

continue only twenty-five years. But the haste of 
Rhode Island to sanction the new proposal proved 
to be no greater than it had been to sanction the 
old one. Howell opposed sanction in his letters, 
and what was more, some of the States formerly 
receptive to the idea of an impost now (influenced 
by Rhode Island's example) were of a contrary 
mind. Irritated by the situation, certain of the 
" young men in Congress " raised in 1784 a question 
upon the technical sufficiency of the credentials of 
Howell and his colleagues. After a heated debate, 
Mercer of Virginia and Spaight of North Carolina 
both challenged the Rhode Islander to a duel. 
David Howell — man of commanding physique, 
aquiline nose, and defiant chin — replied that he 
meant " to chastise any insults that he might re- 
ceive," and laid the communications before Con- 
gress. In 1784 Annapolis, Maryland (a town said 
to have been without a single house of worship), 
was the temporary seat of Continental government. 
Social life there was of the gayest — a life of card- 
playing, the theatre, " balls, concerts, routs, hops, 
fandangoes, and fox hunting." Upon it all Howell, 
as a man with New England conscience, turned 
disdainfully his back. 

But the uncompromising hostility of Rhode 
Island to an impost was beginning to give way. 
The cause was commerce. Hitherto when asked : 
" How are the United States to meet their debts ? " 
Rhode Island's reply had regularly been : " By the 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 249 

proceeds of the public lands." Now conditions were 
a good deal changed. In July, 1783, Great Britain 
had put in operation a plan of discrimination 
against the extensive trade of New England with 
the British West Indies. English manufactured 
goods, too, were flooding the New England market. 
A tariff of some kind was demanded for self-preser- 
vation. What was to be done ? Clearly one thing 
only, and that was to invest Congress with power 
to regulate commerce — in other words, to establish 
a uniform impost. This power Rhode Island with 
many qualms, but screwing its courage to the stick- 
ing point, granted in February, 1786. 

There can be little doubt that the exaltation of 
particularism between 1782 and 1785 by David 
Howell laid the foundation for some of Rhode 
Island's extreme distrust of the Federal Constitu- 
tion of 1787. The instrument would have been 
distrusted by Rhode Island in any event, but How- 
ell supplied an arsenal of controversial weapons 
against it. 

Hostility to the Constitution, though, came from 
a source different from that whence had come hos- 
tility to the impost. The enemies of the impost 
had been the merchants. They had feared its 
effect on trade. Toward the Constitution — an in- 
strument largely designed to protect trade — an 
instrument the outcome in fact of the recommenda- 
tion of a convention called in 1786, at the instance 



250 KHODE ISLAND 

of Virginia, to deliberate upon trade — the mer- 
chants were hospitably inclined.^ 

1 Providence, May 11th, 1787. 
Gentlemen, 

Since the Legislature of this State have finally declined sending 
Delegates to meet you in Convention for the purposes mentioned 
in the Resolve of Congress of the 21st February, 1787, — the 
Merchants, Tradesmen, and Others of this Place, deeply Affected 
with the evils of the present unhappy times, have thought proper 
to communicate in writing their approbation of your Meeting, 
And their regret that it will fall short of a Compleat represen- 
tation of the Federal Union. — 

The failure of this State was owing to the nonconcurrence of 
the Upper House of Assembly with a Vote passed in the Lower 
House, for Appointing Delegates to attend the said Convention, at 
their Session Holden at Newport, on the first Wednesday of the 
present Month. — 

It is the General Opinion here, and we believe of the well in- 
formed throughout this State, that full power for the regulation 
of the Commerce of the United States, both foreign and Domes- 
tick, ought to be vested in the National Council. And that 
Effectual Arrangements should also be made for giving operation 
to the present powers of Congress in their Requisitions upon the 
States for National purposes. — 

As the object of this Letter is chiefly to prevent any impressions 
unfavourable to the Commercial Interest of this State, from take- 
ing place in our Sister States, from the Circumstance of our being 
unrepresented in the present National Convention, we shall not 
presume to enter into any detail of the objects we hope your delib- 
erations will embrace and provide for, being Convinced they will 
be such as have a Tendency to strengthen the Union, promote 
Commerce, increase the power, and Establish the Credit of the 
United States. 

The result of your deliberations, tending to these desirable pur- 
poses, we still hope may finally be approved & adopted by this 
State ; for which we pledge our Influence & best exertions. — 

This will be delivered you by the Honourable James M. Var- 
num. Esquire, who will communicate (with your permission) in 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 251 

It was on February 21, 1787, that Congress 
resolved for a convention of delegates to be held on 
the second Monday in May, at Philadelphia, to so 
modify the Articles of Confederation as to render 
them " adequate to the exigencies of government 
and the preservation of the Union." In this con- 
vention by the end of June Rhode Island alone 
among the States was unrepresented. To Rhode 
Island itself the fact gave little concern. The State 
was under the control of the traditional separatists, 
the agriculturalists, and their indifference to Fed- 
eral affairs had been evinced the year previous in 
the case of James Manning, President of Brown 
University, whom they had sent to Congress and 
then left (as Roger Williams had once been left in 
England) without money wherewith to hire even a 
barber or to keep from a debtor's prison. 

But on all sides a storm of criticism was begin- 

person, more particularly our Sentiments on the Subject matter of 
our Address. 

In behalf of the Merchants, Tradesmen, &c. 
We have the Honour to be, with perfect Consideration And 
Respect, 

Your most Obedient and 

Most Humble Servants, 

John Brown, Jabez Bowen 

Jos. Nightingale, Nichos. Brown 

Levi Hall John Jenckes 

Phillip Allen, Welcome Arnold 



Paul Allen William Russell 

Jeremiah Olney 
William Bartok 
Thos. Lloyd Halsey 
Pub. B. I. Hist Soc. vol. ii, p. 169. 



■ Comtee. 



252 RHODE ISLAND 

ning to descend. Massachusetts (true to the policy 
of Winthrop) was for " appropriating Rhode Island 
to the different States that surround her." Wash- 
ington stigmatized " her public councils " as " scan- 
dalous." Madison spoke of the " wickedness and 
folly that reigned." Even Varnum denounced those 
responsible for the local apathy and obstinacy as 
" destitute of education and void of principle." At 
last, in September, 1787, after the General Assem- 
bly had thrice refused to appoint delegates and two 
days before the great convention at Philadelphia 
adjourned, the State dispatched a letter to the 
President of Congress in explanation of its course. 
Allusion was made to " our being diffident of power." 
But the main excuse was the shifty one that the 
freemen and not the General Assembly were the 
only body by which delegates might be appointed. 
Before the month of September expired the 
Constitution was submitted to the several States 
for ratification, and Rhode Island found itself con- 
fronted by the most serious crisis in its history 
since the days of " boundaries." The new instru- 
ment was to go into effect upon ratification by nine 
States, and any State that chose not to ratify must 
face the prospect of an existence uncommiserated 
without the pale. The step first taken was to refer 
the instrument to the towns, and with the reference 
there began discussion. On January 28, 1788, 
a writer in the Newport " Mercury " gave warn- 
ing : " If you adopt the proposed Constitution, you 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 253 

will subject yourselves to a government where you 
will be totally unprotected by a bill of rights. . . . 
Your Federal Senate is to be in place for six 
years, and senators, by reason of their importance 
and of their participation in executive power, may 
make themselves in effect absolute." The commu- 
nication (one marked by undeniable foresight) 
concluded with a statement that under the Con- 
stitution the Federal Supreme Court might issue 
execution against a State in a case where a State 
was a party. 

To these strictures a contributor signing himself 
" A Rhode Island Man " replied on February 25. 
As for the exercise of absolute power by the new 
government, what, he asked, could exceed for ab- 
soluteness the power habitually exercised by the 
Rhode Island General Assembly ? The Constitu- 
tion, indeed, was like a new house built to be ten- 
anted by a large family. Each member found 
some fault with it : it was not large enough ; the 
windows were upside down ; the doors were so con- 
trived [an allusion to the purely secular character 
of the instrument] that a Turk might go in and 
out as freely as a Christian ; or it should have been 
round, three-sided, or twelve-sided, — one side to- 
ward every State except Rhode Island. Servants, 
too [representatives and senators], must be hired 
for two and six years, — long periods. A better 
plan would have admitted of their being hired 
afresh every morning. Worse than all else, the 



254 RHODE ISLAND 

inmates would be obliged to f uroish their own pro- 
visions. It ought to have been so devised that they 
might be supported " by manna or by quails." 

The result of the reference of the Constitution 
to the towns (a result intensified by abstention 
from voting on the part of many) was rejection 
by a great majority. Agitation then (March, 1788) 
was begun for the holding of a constitutional con- 
vention. The General Assembly thrice refused to 
call a convention, and by July 26 New York had 
ratified and the Constitution was in effect beyond 
all controversy. Where now was Rhode Island? 
Along with North Carolina (the Rhode Island of 
the South) it was upon its own by no means su- 
perabounding resources. In November, 1789, its 
isolation was made still more pronounced by ratifi- 
cation by North Carolina. Meanwhile the State 
had four times more refused to call a convention, 
and had dared even to hint at a foreign alliance. 

What at length, in 1790, turned the current in 
the little but resolute commonwealth in favor of 
the Constitution was what in 1786 had turned the 
current there in favor of a Federal impost, namely, 
commerce. On the accession to the Union of New 
Hampshire, the ninth State, Providence (now rather 
than Newport the commercial centre) had rung its 
bells, fired its cannon, and held a barbecue ; and 
on the accession of New York it again had indulged 
in jubilation. When, therefore, in July, 1789, the 
national House of Representatives passed a tariff 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 255 

act which made no exemption in favor of Khode 
Island, Providence was in a position to point to the 
hurtful consequences. In September the General 
Assembly indited a letter to the two houses of Con- 
gress expressing the hope that " we shall not be 
altogether considered as foreigners "... and that 
" trade and commerce, upon which the prosperity 
of this State much depends, will be preserved as 
free and open between this and the United States 
as our different situations at present can possibly 
admit." The olive branch was taken. To Rhode 
Island there was granted exemption from revenue 
restrictions until January, 1790. 

On the 17th of January the General Assembly 
by a close vote ordered the calling of a conven- 
tion. The convention met on March 1 in South 
Kingstown. Jabez Bowen of Providence and Henry 
Marchant of Newport led the Federalists, while 
the Anti-Federalists were led by John Collins and 
the astute Jonathan J. Hazard of South Kings- 
town. The principal topic of debate would seem 
to have been the Constitution and slavery. Nathan 
Miller of Warren asserted that he had the Word 
of God in his house, and that it contained nothing 
against slavery. On the other hand. Colonel Wil- 
liam Barton of Providence (he of the Prescott 
seizure) declared that slavery was contrary to the 
New Testament. A bill of rights, containing among 
other things a section condemning the slave trade 
as " disgraceful to liberty and humanity," was se- 



256 EHODE ISLAND 

cured by tlie Anti-Federalists, and at tlie same time 
an adjournment was taken to May 24, at Newport. 

When the convention reassembled, it did so in 
the face of yet stronger pressure for ratification. 
Congress, hampered by the absence of Khode Island 
representatives in its consideration of such ques- 
tions as the location of the Federal capital and the 
assumption of the State debts, had hinted covertly 
at coercion. The Senate had even gone so far as to 
pass a resolution in favor of a bill for severing 
relations between the United States and Rhode 
Island, and for demanding of the latter a payment 
of money on account with the United States. Nor 
was it Congress alone that exerted pressure. Prov- 
idence, boldly reverting to ideas current in the 
age of Roger Williams, threatened, under sanction 
from Congress, to secede from its connection with 
the agricultural section and to set up for itself. 
Wrought upon by the combined influences de- 
scribed, but more than by any other influence by 
that of fear of commercial isolation, Rhode Island 
on May 29 ratified the Constitution by the suffi- 
cient yet significant majority of two votes. 

In his admirable monograph, " Rhode Island and 
the Formation of the Union," Dr. Frank G. Bates 
deplores the lack at this time in his native State of 
competent popular leaders devoted to Federalism. 
South Carolina had its Pinckneys and Rutledges ; 
Massachusetts its Ameses and Kings ; Virginia its 
Madisons and Marshalls ; New York its Alexander 



THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION 257 

Hamilton. Khode Island had no one. Invaluable 
would have been the leadership of a Stephen Hop- 
kins. The Nestor himself — friend of organic union 
in America since 1764 — had only in 1785 passed 
away, but no successor was at hand. James Varnum 
had in 1788 removed to the Northwest Territory. 
As for David Howell, he (had he come forward) 
presumably must have done so against the Union. 
But he did not come forward. His course in 1786 
in Trevett vs. Weeden had alienated from him the 
agriculturalists, and henceforth his time and thought 
were devoted wholly to jurisprudence. 

The stability which Rhode Island had gained 
under the restraints of the Revolution was aug- 
mented under the milder restraints of the Federal 
bond, and soon the towns began to turn their 
glances backward to commerce and forward to 
manufactures. 



CHAPTER XIII 

DECLINE OF COMMERCE AND ESTABLISHMENT OF 
MANUFACTURES 

Slave Trade and Commerce at Newport and Bristol — Moses 
Brown and the Cotton Industry at Providence — John Brown 
and the East India Trade — The Barbary Corsairs — War of 
1812 — Samuel Slater — Political Conditions — Visits of Talley- 
rand and Lafayette . 

It was Providence that directed its glances both 
forward and backward. Newport looked only back- 
ward. 

In 1779, when the British evacuated Newport, 
they left it a shadow of its former self. Pigot, 
withdrawing within his lines before the advance 
of Sullivan, had burned houses and hewn down 
groves. The compact part of the town, too, had 
suffered. On May 31, 1780, Dr. Stiles wrote: 
" About three hundred dwelling house I judge have 
been destroyed. The Town is in Ruins. But with 
Nehemiah I could prefer the very dust of Zion to 
the Gardens of Persia, and the broken walls of 
Jerusalem to the Palaces of Sushan. I rode over 
the Isle and found the beautiful Rows of Trees 
which lined the Roads, with sundry coppices or 
groves &> Orchards down and laid waste ; but the 



COMMEKCE AND MANUFACTURES 259 

natural Beauties of the Place still remain. And I 
doubt not the place will be rebuilt & exceed its 
former splendor." ^ 

A final and irreparable piece of mischief was 
worked by the departing loyalists. They carried 
away with them to New York the town records. 
These through the wrecking at Hell Gate of the 
transporting vessel were submerged for a time in 
salt water. Upon the request of Washington, they 
were recovered by Sir Guy Carleton and restored ; 
but they were almost undecipherable, and long 
remained a reddened mass ready to crumble at 
the touch. 

At the close of the Eevolution Newport cast 

1 " I have seen not a little of other countries, but I never saw 
any Island that unites finer views, rendered pleasant by vari- 
ety of hill & vale, rocks, reefs, beaches, Islands & perennial ponds 
than this. . . . Before the discovery of our mineral springs, Rh. 
Island was in one view the Bath of the American world. . . . This 
and the Redwood Library gave it both a literary & a genteel 
air ; and rendered it the best bred society in N. England. But 
— alas ! — how changed ! The British destroyed, for fuel, about 
900 [?] buildings, of [to] be sure the poorer sort ; yet it has never 
recovered the dilapidation. The town of Providence has risen 
to riches & elegance from the ruins of this once beautiful spot ; 
while Newport resembles an old battered shield — its scars & 
bruises are deep and indelible. Commerce, & all the Jews are fled. 
The wharves are deserted & the lamp in the synagogue is ex- 
tinct ; and the people are now so poor, that there are not more 
than ten, or a dozen people who would have the courage to in- 
vite a stranger to his table." — Benjamin Waterhouse, Letter to 
Thomas Jefferson, September 14, 1822. Pub. R. I. Hist. Soc. 
vol. ii. See also Brissot de Warville, Pictures of B. I. in the Past, 
edited by Gertrude S. Kimball. 



260 EHODE ISLAND 

back a longing glance in particular upon the slave 
trade. It was in this trade that the town had 
grown rich, and to this trade that it was most at- 
tached. Difficulties, however, were accumulating 
in the way of it. The Rhode Island law of 1774 
prohibiting the importation of slaves gave little 
concern. So did the law of ten years later pro- 
viding for local emancipation. But in 1787 par- 
ticipation by Rhode Islanders in the foreign slave 
trade was forbidden ; and in 1794, 1800, and 1803 
the Federal Congress passed laws amounting, when 
taken together, to a prohibition of the foreign slave 
trade to all American citizens, and also of the do- 
mestic trade wherever forbidden by local law. 

Under these conditions embarrassment for the 
slave traders was relieved by the action of South 
Carolina. That State in 1788 had forbidden slave 
importations. The law had failed of enforcement, 
so in 1803 it was repealed. Straightway Rhode 
Island began sending to Charleston great numbers 
of slave ships. Between 1804 and 1807 Great Brit- 
ain, France, Sweden, Massachusetts, Connecticut, 
Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina all availed 
themselves of the open slave port of Charleston ; 
but none of them (Grreat Britain and South Caro- 
lina excepted) to the same extent as did Rhode 
Island. Of the 202 vessels entered at Charleston 
during the years indicated, three were from France, 
one was from Sweden, one from Massachusetts, and 
one from Connecticut ; four were from Maryland, 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 261 

and two from Virginia. On the other hand, seventy 
were from Great Britain, sixty-one from South 
Carolina, and fifty-nine from Ehode Island. 

The zeal of Newport in the post-Revolutionary 
slave trade and at the same time the comparative 
indifference of Providence to that trade come out 
clearly in the correspondence of the day. On Au- 
gust, 17, 1789, Samuel Hopkins wrote from New- 
port to Moses Brown : " The combined opposition 
to a suppression of the trade in slaves is so great 
and strong here that I think no anti-slavery com- 
mittee formed in this town would be able to do 
much." And in 1791 (December 5) William 
Ellery, himself a Newporter, wrote : '' An Ethi- 
opian could as soon change his skin as a Newport 
merchant could be induced to change so lucrative 
a trade as that in slaves for the slow profits of any 
manufactory." 

It is true that in 1807 Congress, availing itself 
of a provision of the Federal Constitution, passed 
an act forbidding absolutely and for the whole 
country any further importation of slaves. But 
before the act went into effect (to say nothing of 
what took place afterwards) ^ the example of slave- 

1 Bristol, August 20th, 1816. 
Mr. Obadiah Brown 

My Esteemed Friend, — The impunity with which prohib- 
ited traffic is carried on from this Place, has for some time 
rendered it the occasional resort of many violators of commercial 
law from other Places, as well as the constant residence of others. 
The African slave-trade is the one of this description now most 



262 RHODE ISLAND 

trading Newport had been followed by the ener- 
getic town of Bristol. 

In 1744, when Simeon Potter was making his 

successfully and extensively prosecuted. Such is the number, & 
more especially the character of those concerned in it, that I 
should consider myself as incurring some personal hazard if I did 
not know that you heartily abominate the odious trade, and would 
make no disclosure to the injury of one who would only wish its 
complete prevention. I do not know that it is possible to effect 
this, but the facts in relation to this subject can be considered by 
those capable of determining. 

Cargoes suited to the American market are procured here & 
taken on board vessels suited to the business and cleared for Ha- 
vana [sic]. The Master there effects a nominal sale of vessels & 
cargo to a Spaniard, takes on board a Spanish nominal Master 
& proceeds to Africa. A power of Attorney to effect the sale is 
always prepared here before sailing. When the vessel has made 
one voyage she can proceed on another without returning to the 
U. S. A cargo is usually sent out to her to Havana. There are 
several now out that have performed several voyages since they 
first sailed from here. There is one now laying here ready for sea 
called " The General Peace of Providence," lately owned wholly 
by Joseph Sanders of that Place, Thomas H. Russell of this Town, 
Master & Attorney to effect the pretended sale. I wrote his 
Power of Attorney. Bills of sale of parts of the vessel have been 
given here : But the whole is to be covered under a Spanish name. 
The [sic] even speak familiarly of their destination, & one against 
whom I had a demand boldly told me I must wait till he could go 
& catch some black-birds. 

By such stratagems as these, hundreds of that unhappy race 
are now annually torn from their homes and doomed with all 
their posterity to West India Slavery. Can the Friends of hu- 
manity do nothing to prevent so outrageous an evil ? 

In the number of those concerned in this business are some of 
my personal Friends, and many from [sic] I derive a portion 
of my business & support. My feelings revolt from the idea of 
inflicting the vengeance of the law on the first, and policy (which 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 263 

cruise along the Spanish Main to the distress of 
gentle Father Fauque of Oyapoc, there was with 
him as supercargo Mark Anthony DeWolf , a young 
man of Guadeloupe. De Wolf married Potter's 
sister, settled at Bristol, and became the father of 
a famous seafaring progeny — James, Charles, and 
John De Wolf. James, who was born in 1764, 
achieved in the early years of the nineteenth cen- 
tury great wealth in the slave trade, and in 1820 
became a United States senator. Ten of the fifty- 
nine slavers employed by Rhode Island between 
1804 and 1807 were owned, ship and cargo, by 
James De Wolf. Indeed, as between Newport and 
Bristol during this interval, honors in respect to the 
slave traffic were almost evenly divided. Seven 
thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight negroes were 
carried to Charleston in Rhode Island vessels. Of 

circumstances oblige me to consult) oug-ht to restrain me from an 
open participation in the punishment of the others. I think if 
you at Providence were to write and talk more on the subject, to 
advertise a determination to prosecute, & thus at least evince 
your knowledge of the existence of facts, you might do some 
good. Humane laws, used in the spirit of humanity, ought not in 
their execution to bring disgrace on any but their violators, but 
such is the depraved judgment of the multitude, that to tell of 
crimes is almost as odious as to commit them, & I request you 
not to disclose that any of the facts herein stated come from me. 
I am Sir — 

Your Frd. &c. 

[Signature cut out]. 

N. B. — Edward Mason of your Town is concerned with 
Sanders. 

Pub. JR. I. Hist. Soc. vol. vi, p. 226. 



264 RHODE ISLAND 

these nearly 3500 were carried in vessels from 
Newport, and about 3900 in vessels from Bristol. 
Providence vessels carried just 5b6. 

Newport looked back with longing upon the slave 
trade. It also looked back with longing, though in 
less degree, upon the vanished Mediterranean and 
Levantine trade of the Hebrew merchant Abraham 
Kodriguez Rivera. This trade, or rather trade of a 
kind akin to it, was now to be undertaken by men 
who were not only residents of Newport but natives 
of America — Mr. George Gibbs and Mr. Walter 
Channing, constituting the firm of Gibbs & Chan- 
ning, and Mr. Christopher Champlin and Mr. 
George Champlin, constituting the firm of Cham- 
plin & Champlin. Between 1790 and 1812 both 
houses dealt largely to Sweden and St. Petersburg 
for iron ; to Java for coffee ; to Canton for teas, 
nankeens, and silks ; and to Antwerp, Malaga, Bar- 
celona, and Leghorn for miscellaneous commodities. 
In 1810 the tonnage of Newport was 12,517, only 
3347 less than that of Providence. At this period, 
too, the trades of ship-building and whale-catch- 
ing had been much revived. A leading position 
with regard to both was taken by the town of 
Warren. 

For the commercial decline of Newport, as also 
for that of Bristol and Warren, there may be as- 
signed four general causes : foreign interference 
(after 1793) with American ships ; the American 
Embargo Acts of the years 1807 and 1809; the 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 265 

War of 1812 ; and the introduction of railroads. 
Providence felt the operation of the same causes, 
but was able to betake itself to manufactures. To 
Newport no such course was open. There was on 
the island of Rhode Island no brawling Blackstone 
nor swift Pawtuxet — in a word, no water-power ; 
and when the sea as a field of activity failed the 
islanders, naught was left them but to quit for- 
ever the spot of their aifections, or, putting their 
savings at interest, to live in the memory of the 
stirring past. 

Newport had early been the resort of wealthy 
English planters of the West Indies and Carolinas 
— the Redwoods, the Pinckneys, the Rutledges, 
and the Haynes. After 1840 it became increasingly 
the resort of the people of Charleston. Its attrac- 
tions were its salubrious climate, the wide ocean 
prospect from its cliffs, and its extensive bathing 
beaches. Then, too, there was about it a delightful 
historic afterglow. Nobody there was very busy 
now. The shipping — huge East Indiaman and 
small trim slaver — had disappeared. The wharves 
and slave-pens were falling to decay. No Red 
Rover lay mysterious in the outer harbor. But 
local circles were charged with anecdotes of many 
a slaver and many a rover ; and the local spinster, 
proud of the claims of long descent, was proud 
also, to produce for the benefit of those sufficiently 
accredited the heirloom London gown, the heir- 
loom invitation to the Washington-Rochambeau 



266 RHODE ISLAND 

ball, or the heirloom set of priceless " china " from 
Canton. 

Nor yet in other ways did latter-day Newport 
fail in suggestiveness. The gentle and flower-like 
genius of Edward G. Malbone — a natural son of 
John Malbone the merchant magnate — served to 
re-create a Berkeleyan atmosphere in art. Born in 
1777, Malbone painted miniature portraits un- 
matched for loveliness, and died at the age of 
thirty. But in no son of Newport, perhaps — 
whether of a latter day or a former — was the 
Berkeleyan or idealistic element fundamental in 
Ehode Island character brought to such perfection 
as in William Ellery Channing. On the 9th of 
May, 1773, Dr. Ezra Stiles made entry in his 
diary : " In the eveng I married Mr. William 
Channing and Miss Lucy Ellery." William Ellery 
Channing was a fruit of this union. He opposed 
slavery and forecast Transcendentalism. His death 
occurred in 1842. After 1840 — the era of rail- 
roads — Newport, and with it Khode Island at 
large in so far as the latter depended upon the sea, 
became an American Venice. It could only look 
forth helpless upon that element which erstwhile it 
had been its mission to subdue. 

It has been said that Providence at the close of the 
Revolution glanced forward as well as backward. 
Its first vigorous glance was unmistakably forward. 

On December 2, 1789, nearly six months before 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 267 

Rhode Island ratified the Federal Constitution, 
Samuel Slater, a young Englishman of Derbyshire 
who had been attracted to America by a prospect 
of advancement in connection with the manufac- 
ture of cotton yarn, wrote thus to Moses Brown : 
" A few days ago I was informed that you wanted 
a manager of cotton spinning, &c., in which busi- 
ness I flatter myself that I can give the greatest 
satisfaction, in making machinery, making good 
yarn, either for stockings or twist, as any that is 
made in England ; as I have had opportunity and 
an oversight, of Sir Richard Arkwright's works 
and in Mr. Strutt's mill upwards of eight years.'' 
When this letter was received. Brown (the finan- 
cial stay of the firm of Almy & Brown) had for 
some time been struggling at Pawtucket with im- 
perfect imitations of the Arkwright patents. " If 
thou thought," he at once replied to Slater, " thou 
couldst perfect the machines and conduct them to 
profit, if thou wilt come and do it, thou shalt have 
all the profits made of them over and above the 
interest of the money they cost and the wear and 
tear of them." Slater came, and his triumph will 
ere long engage our attention. Meanwhile a word 
regarding that upon which Providence in common 
with Newport was casting backward glance — com- 
merce. 

In this domain it is our acquaintance John Brown 
— the brother of Moses — that bespeaks attention. 
No whit less restive now was John than when we 



268 RHODE ISLAND 

beheld him upbraiding Sullivan (through Greene) 
for the failure of the Franco- American movement 
against the British under Pigot. One of the few 
Providence merchants to reenter the slave trade, he 
was a member of the General Assembly in March, 
1784, when the emancipation bill was passed ; and 
although instructed by the Providence town meet- 
ing to support the measure, he made over it a very 
wry face indeed. A " shaller policy," he stigmatized 
it, to prohibit slave holding or to interfere with the 
lucrative business of slave trading. His course on 
slavery, like his course in relation to the Continen- 
tal frigates and in denunciation of Sullivan, was 
but a variation at considerable moral cost upon 
the precept, " Put money in thy purse." It is true 
that in 1787 we find him (under the spur of a 
desire to enlist in a commercial venture the capital 
of his brother Moses) actually proposing to quit 
the " Giney " trade, and urging Moses to enter 
the General Assembly, where he could work for the 
suppression of slavery. But in 1797 he became 
the object of a legal prosecution at the hands of 
Caleb Greene of Newport for participation in this 
very trade to Guinea. The same year he wrote to 
Greene begging him to desist from the suit for the 
reason that " he had done with the trade now ; " 
yet in 1799, as a member of the lower house of 
Congress, he did not scruple to proclaim from his 
seat that all the existing legislation against slavery 
should be repealed; "for why," he asked, "should 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 269 

we see Great Britain getting all the slave trade to 
themselves ? " 

The commercial venture of 1787 in which John 
Brown endeavored to enlist the support of Moses 
Brown was a voyage to the East Indies. The idea 
was a bold one. It was only since 1783 that the 
mariners of Salem, Massachusetts, following a lure 
which had enthralled Marco Polo, Columbus, and 
Da Gama, had adventured to the Orient; but 
Brown, as the affair of the Gaspee had shown, was 
nothing if not bold. Besides (and this perhaps was 
the main consideration) the slave trade was now so 
obstructed by local penal legislation, and the West 
India trade by British restrictions, that a depar- 
ture in commerce had become almost a necessity. 

As far back as 1782 the historic house of Nicho- 
las Brown & Company had been dissolved, and in 
its stead there had arisen under Nicholas Brown 
the house of Brown & Benson, and under John 
Brown the house of Brown & Francis. Between 
1787 and 1807 the latter house, which owned its 
own docks and yards and built its own ships, em- 
ployed in the East India trade four vessels, — the 
General Washington, the Warren, the President 
Washington, and the George Washington. Of 
these the largest was the President Washington 
(950 tons), and all were uniformly successful in 
their voyages. Outward bound, they made the 
ports of Madeira, Calcutta, Madras, Batavia, Pon- 
dicherry, and Canton. Returning, they touched 



270 RHODE ISLAND 

at St. Helena, St. Ascension, and St. Eustatia. 
Their cargoes of anchors, cordage, cannon and 
shot, bar iron, Narragansett cheese, spermaceti 
candles, wine, brandy, spirits, and rum were ex- 
changed for tea, silks, "china," cotton goods, 
lacquered ware, cloves, and flannels, and the pro- 
fits earned cast those even of slave -trading into 
the background. 

In 1794 Brown & Benson (now Brown, Benson 
& Ives), stimulated by the success of Brown & 
Francis, determined likewise to adventure in the 
East. They sent out (respectively in 1794 and 
1798) two notable ships, the John Jay and the 
Ann and Hope. Both made successful voyages, 
but both alike (in strong contrast to the vessels 
of Brown & Francis) led checkered careers end- 
ing in disaster. The John Jay on her first voyage 
(to Bombay and Canton) was caught in a mon- 
soon and lost nearly all her masts and all her 
sails and spars. She furthermore was scourged by 
small-pox and narrowly escaped seizure by pirates 
in the China seas. When finally, in 1796, she got 
home she brought with her, besides 560,000 pounds 
of tea, such articles of interest as silks (13 boxes 
and 14 pieces), umbrellas (2 boxes and 64 single 
umbrellas), china-ware (138 boxes), fans (3 boxes), 
quicksilver (2 tubs), sugar candy (2 tubs), pre- 
served fruits (4 tubs), ostrich feathers (610), rat- 
tans and canes (1800), one bundle of window 
screens, one backgammon board, and what not. 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 271 

The John Jay In 1806 was captured by a British 
sloop-of-war, and in order to effect her release it 
became necessary to appeal to the High Court of 
Admiralty. In 1807 she struck a reef off Pigeon 
Island (near Java) and went to pieces. 

As for the Ann and Hope, her career was varied 
in the extreme. She was a fast ship, and carried 
a good armament. In 1798 she sailed for Canton. 
She stopped at Sydney, Australia, and afterwards 
at the uninhabited island of Tinian. Here there 
was discovered, wildly pacing the sands, a Lascar 
(East India sailor) who had been cast away in 
a brig manned by whites and East Indians. The 
whites had been rescued by a passing vessel, but 
the Lascars had been left to their fate. At leng^th 
a Spanish slave ship had touched at the island. 
By this craft the Lascars (all save the narrator) 
had been carried away in irons. The narrator had 
escaped by concealing himself in the woods. Sub- 
sisting on oranges, cherries, plums, and cocoanut.s, 
— products of the spot, — he had passed his time 
in solitude and tears, watching for a sail. A man 
not without parts was this Robinson Crusoe of 
the Orient, for he spoke English, French, Spanish, 
Portuguese, and Malay. He was taken to Macao, 
whence he could ship readily for Bengal. On the 
same voyage the Ann and Hope fell in with a 
French privateer, which gave her chase and fired 
three shots at her. These were returned with em- 
phasis, and the privateer drew off. In 1806, on a 



272 RHODE ISLAND 

return voyage from the East, the vessel, together 
with her cargo, was lost on Block Island. 

Commodities imported from the East Indies 
into Providence in 1795 were valued at $311,910 ; 
in 1800 at 1726,924 ; in 1804 at 1887,000 ; in 
1806 (the year of the loss of the Ann and Hope) 
at 1662,200. The trade lasted until 1841, hut its 
heyday was over by 1807.^ 

The trade of Khode Island with the East was 
free from the peculiar embarrassments that beset 
the slave trade and the West India trade, but 
it suffered from others common at the time to 
American trade everywhere. John Brown died in 
1803, and before his death the embarrassments 
spoken of had become serious. Among them after 

1 The registered tonnage o£ the United States calculated on an 
average of ten years, 1800-1809, was held in the following ratio 
compared to population : — 



New Hampshire 0.09 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Vermont 


.001 tons to the inha,bitant. 


Massachusetts 


.37 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Rhode Island 


.19 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Connecticut 


.10 


tons to the inhabitant. 


New York 


.13 


tons to the inhabitant. 


New Jersey 


.01 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Pennsylvania 


.10 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Delaware 


.02 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Maryland 


.17 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Virginia 


.03 


tons to the inhabitant. 


North Carolina 


.03 


tons to the inhabitant. 


South Carolina 


.09 


tons to the inhabitant. 


Georgia 


.03 


tons to the inhabitant. 

Seybert, p. 



Quoted by Dr. William Jones in his Transition of Providence 
from a Commercial to a Manufacturing Community. 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 273 

1793 was (as has been said) interference by for- 
eign powers. Interference was of two kinds — 
depredations by Barbary pirates and seizures by 
the British and Frencb (then at war) under the 
orders and decrees of their respective governments 
with regard to neutrals. 

The Barbary pirates were the same marauding 
race that in 1680 had taken captive William Har- 
ris, the antagonist of Eoger Williams. European 
States had long been paying them tribute, and 
since 1785 tribute had been accumulating against 
the United States. It had not sooner been col- 
lected, because hitherto the Algerians and Tuni- 
sians had been conjBned by Portugal within the 
Straits of Gibraltar and so had been unable to 
lay hands upon American ships. In 1793, through 
British contrivance, the Portuguese blockade was 
suspended for a twelvemonth and the pirates 
flocked out into the Atlantic. In one cruise they 
captured ten American merchantmen and enslaved 
one hundred and five citizens. 

The news when received at Providence caused 
the greatest concern. Theodore Foster, one of the 
United States senators from Rhode Island, was 
beset with requests to make known what Congress 
would do. " We can't send out a ship," wrote 
Welcome Arnold in January, 1794, " without stip- 
ulating to redeem the seamen from the Algerines. 
Will Congress set about building a navy imme- 
diately ? ... If Congress must buy peace it can 



274 RHODE ISLAND 

do it cheaper with a navy building." On the 4th 
of February the town of Warren, with commend- 
able forethought, wrote asking to be given a chance 
to build some of the ships for the projected navy. 
On February 13 George Benson, of the house of 
Brown & Benson, inquired anxiously : " Why is 
there no decision on the proposal to equip a small 
fleet ? The season for cutting ship-timber is fast 
closing, and we learn by an arrival from South 
Carolina that a vessel from Gibraltar brings au- 
thoritative information that the Algerine fleet is 
refitting and actually means to cruise on our coast 
next summer." Letters like the foregoing were 
productive of results. On March 27, 1794, Con- 
gress ordered six frigates to be built — among 
them the ever famous Constitution. Despite the 
plea of the town of Warren, none was ordered 
to be built in Rhode Island, yet the State was not 
permitted to go unrecognized. In June, 1794, 
Silas Talbot, the hero of the capture of the Pigot 
galley, was appointed one of six new naval cap- 
tains. 

Rhode Island built neither the Constitution, the 
President, the United States, the Chesapeake, 
the Congress, nor the Constellation ; in 1798, 
however, the Federal government purchased from 
John Brown the Indiaman George Washington. 
In 1800 (fact humiliating and strange) this vessel 
under Captain Bainbridge was sent to Algiers 
as bearer of tribute to the Dey. The story how 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 275 

the George Washington, as the ship of a tributary- 
nation, was compelled to carry a party of two hun- 
dred Algerine envoys to Constantinople that they 
in turn might render tribute to the Sublime Porte, 
is interesting, but cannot here be repeated. Suf- 
fice it to say, that soon after the return of the ship 
to the United States, there came an end to tribute 
— an end which Stephen Decatur, son and grand- 
son of a Decatur of Newport, did not a little to 
bring about. 

Toward the War of 1812 — a contest for com- 
mercial rights forced upon America by the Anglo- 
French wars which had begun in 1793 — the atti- 
tude of Rhode Island was peculiar. Its seamen 
ever and anon were impressed,^ and between 1804 
and 1807 its ships suffered from the British orders- 
in-council. But the Jeffersonian embargo, imposed 
in 1807, proved more destructive to its interests 
than impressment and orders-in-council combined. 
The measure gave a foretaste of absolute cessation 

^ In May, 1794, the British man-of-war Nautilus put into New- 
port Harbor for supplies. It became known that there were on 
board the vessel a number of impressed American seamen. The 
General Assembly thereupon detained the captain (Boynton) and 
his first lieutenant until a search could be made. As a result of 
the search, six men were found who claimed to be American citi- 
zens : one from Martha's Vineyard ; one from Charleston ; one 
from Boston ; one from Georgetown, S. C. ; one from Portsmouth, 
Va. ; and one from New York. All were liberated. This prob- 
ably is the earliest case of resistance by an American govern- 
ment to the British claim of right of impressment. S. S. Rider, 
Book Notes, vol. i. 



276 RHODE ISLAND 

of trade with Great Britain. When, therefore, in 
1812 war with Great Britain was declared, Rhode 
Island was emphatic in protest. The General As- 
sembly denounced a resort to arms ; the town of 
Providence tolled its bells and lowered its flags 
to half-mast ; Napoleon Bonaparte was denomi- 
nated an "atrocious murderer and incendiary," and 
Great Britain was lauded as an " oppressed nation 
gloriously struggling for the preservation of its 
liberties." These utterances were supplemented 
by others more specific. In 1813 Governor Wil- 
liam Jones denied the right of the president to 
summon the militia out of the State, and in 1814 
the same official gave warning that " notwithstand- 
ing our respect for the law and our strong attach- 
ment to the union of the States, there may be evils 
greater than can be apprehended from a refusal 
to submit to unconstitutional laws." After such 
an assertion of particularism as this the State was 
ready for the Hartford Convention, the initial step 
toward which it took, and the sessions of which it 
honored with four delegates. 

Rhode Island, although refusing to sanction the 
War of 1812, furnished in the person of Oliver 
Hazard Perry of South Kingstown the most pictur- 
esque naval hero of the conflict. In 1775 James 
Wallace, captain of the British frigate Rose, had 
written to Abraham Whipple : " You, Abraham 
Whipple, on the 10th June, 1772, burned his Majes- 
ty's vessel, the Gaspee, and I will hang you at the 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 277 

yard-arm," whereupon Whipple had replied : " Sir, 
always catch a man before you hang him." Perry 
thus had before him a model of the epigrammatic 
in a naval dispatch, when, on September 10, 1813, 
he wrote : " We have met the enemy and they are 
ours." Another Rhode Island figure of interest in 
connection with the War of 1812 was James De 
Wolf the slave trader of Bristol. In 1812 De 
Wolf put in commission the privateer Yankee. 
The vessel in three and one half years made six 
cruises, captured in all forty prizes, destroyed 
British property to the value of five millions of dol- 
lars, and sent into Bristol a million dollars' worth 
of goods. On the fifth cruise alone the profits were 
so great that the two negro cabin waiters, Cuffee 
Cockroach and Jack Jibsheet, received respectively 
eleven hundred and twenty-one dollars and eighty- 
eight cents, and seven hundred and thirty-eight 
dollars and nineteen cents. 

It remains for us to follow the fortunes of Sam- 
uel Slater. On reaching Pawtucket Slater did three 
things: he secured lodgings at the house of the 
Quaker machinist, Oziel Wilkinson ; he fell deeply 
in love with Wilkinson's daughter, the laughing- 
eyed Hannah ; and he inspected carefully the spin- 
ning appliances of the factory operated by Almy 
& Brown. The appliances he pronounced worth- 
less, and he at once set to work to replace them by 
a full set of machines constructed after the Ark- 



278 RHODE ISLAND 

Wright designs. Models he had none, nor even 
drawings, for the exportation of these things from 
England was forbidden under heavy penalties. 
But he was able to make drawings from memory, 
and by the aid of them models were constructed. 
On December 20, 1790, the Almy & Brown fac- 
tory was newly equipped and ready to start. 

By reason of improved machinery, masterly su- 
perintendence, and ample capital, the firm of 
Almy & Brown was successful in producing cot- 
ton yarn. As late, however, as 1803 it was the 
only successful cotton firm in New England. In 
all the country besides there was but one other 
cotton firm and that soon failed. What was needed 
to establish the industry of cotton manufacturing 
in America was protection against English goods, 
and this came unbidden and unwelcome with the 
embargo of 1807 and the War of 1812. The dis- 
turbances which were wrecking commerce — carry- 
ing Newport down to commercial death and sadly 
injuring commercial Providence — disturbances 
which a Providence town meeting on January 28, 
1809, denounced as subversive of the natural right 
of navigating the ocean — these disturbances, un- 
known to Ehode Island, were preparing the way 
for its greatest prosperity. 

Within thirty miles of Providence in 1805 there 
were five small cotton factories operating 4000 
spindles. In 1815, within the same radius, there 
were 171 factories employing 26,000 workmen, 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 279 

operating 134,588 spindles, and consuming annu- 
ally 29,000 bales of cotton in the production of 
27,840,000 yards of cloth. The cessation of the 
war brought with it the removal of barriers to 
foreign trade and an influx of English and India 
cotton goods with a lowering of prices. There- 
upon Rhode Island cast in its lot definitely with 
those demanding a national protective system and 
supported the tarifE of 1816. 

To provide the capital for the operating of fac- 
tories, banks early became indispensable. Between 
1817 and 1819 such institutions increased from 
seventeen to thirty. To connect the numerous 
small mill villages with Providence — their erb- 
trepbt and their depot — good roads early were 
required. Between 1803 and 1842 thirty-six turn- 
pike companies were incorporated. Mill employees 
were growing in number, and the problem of 
education arose. It was met in part in 1796 by 
Samuel Slater. He established at Pawtucket a 
Sunday-school at which there were taught the 
rudiments of knowledge. His efforts were supple- 
mented by those of John Howland at Providence, 
who as a barber was a member of the Association 
of Mechanics and Manufactures, a society organ- 
ized in 1789. By the energy of Howland the Gen- 
eral Assembly in 1800 was led to pass an act 
creating free schools. The act was repealed in 
1803, and no other was passed until 1828. 

In illustration of the transition in Rhode Island 



280 RHODE ISLAND 

from commerce to manufactures there may be 
cited the case of the great commercial house of 
Brown & Ives, formerly Brown, Benson & Ives. 
As late as 1828 this house was commercial, al- 
though manufactures largely concerned it. To 
guard its commercial interests it joined in a peti- 
tion to Congress against the tariff of 1828, a mea- 
sure which bore heavily on hemp, sail-cloth, iron, 
and molasses. But in 1834 Edward Carrington, 
Wilbur Kelley, Nicholas Brown, Thomas P. Ives, 
Moses Brown Ives, John Carter Brown, and Rob- 
ert H. Ives formed the Lonsdale Cotton Company, 
and soon afterwards the house which had sent forth 
the John Jay and the Ann and Hope sold its last 
ship and ceased to tempt fortune on the sea. 

Commerce in Rhode Island having been sup- 
planted, the fact was not long in pointedly disclosing 
itself. The magnate now was no Wanton (Wil- 
liam or John) or Godfrey Malbone eking out priva- 
teering with mercantile adventuring. The magnate 
of this order had been swept as ruthlessly into the 
realm of anecdote as earlier had been swept into 
the same realm the William Harrises, the William 
Coddingtons, and the William Brentons of the 
order of agriculture. Now the magnate was a less 
picturesque but more ample and utilitarian figure 
— the cotton-mill owner. Such was William 
Sprague the son of the founder of the family of 
Sprague, and such was William Sprague the grand- 
son. Under the firm name of " A. & W. Sprague," 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 281 

the Spr agues junior owned and administered pos- 
sessions princely in extent and magnitude in the 
valley of the Pawtuxet. William, the son of the 
founder, became governor of Rhode Island in 1838 
and United States senator in 1842. William, 
nephew to the latter, became governor in 1860 and 
United States senator in 1863. 

The period of fifty years dealt with in the pre- 
sent chapter is noteworthy in Rhode Island history 
for the gubernatorial administrations of Arthur 
and James Fenner, father and son. Arthur held 
office continuously from 1790 to 1805, and James 
continuously from 1807 to 1811 ; an interval as a 
whole comparable with that during which Samuel 
Cranston held the same office a century earlier, 
or with that during which the office was held by 
various members of the Wanton family. The Fen- 
ner administrations were coincident largely with 
the administrations of Washington,^ Adams, Jef- 

^ The topics of national politics which were of special interest 
to Rhode Islanders at this time were the location of the national 
capital and the assumption of the State debts. Of almost equal 
interest was the matter of appointments to Federal office. Wash- 
ington, who in the other States ignored party considerations, in 
Rhode Island (because of the obstinacy of that commonwealth in 
withstanding the Union) paid attention to them. Arthur Fenner, 
Jabez Bowen, Henry Marchant, William EUery, John Collins, 
William Channing, John Carter, and many others were appli- 
cants for favors. — J. F. Jameson, " The Adjustment of Rhode 
Island into the Union in 1790," Puh. R. I. Hist Soc. vol. viii ; 
Gaillard Hunt, " Office Seeking during Washington's Adminis- 
tration," Am. Hist. Rev. vol. i. 



282 RHODE ISLAND 

ferson, and Madison. Under Washington and 
Adams Rhode Island was Federalist. The treaty 
of Jay with England and the resistance to French 
spoliations were favorable to the interests of the 
State as a commercial community. Under Jeffer- 
son the Republicans gained control, but under 
Madison they lost it because of their advocacy of 
the War of 1812. After the rise and development 
of the protective tariff issue the State became 
Whig. 

But not thus alone is our period one of note. In 
1790 the Providence Society for Promoting the 
Abolition of Slavery was chartered. In 1799 reso- 
lutions were passed by the General Assembly con- 
demning the Virginia and Kentucky Nullification 
Resolutions. In 1822 the Rhode Island Historical 
Society was founded. Between 1831 and 1837 
there took place an anti-Masonic agitation, and 
in 1835 the Boston and Providence Railroad was 
opened. 

The Abolition Society of 1790 owed its existence 
to Moses Brown and " College Tom " Hazard of 
South Kingstown ; but associated with these lead- 
ers were David Howell, Arthur Fenner, and 
Samuel Hopkins ; and Jonathan Edwards was 
associated by correspondence. Over the anti-Nul- 
lification resolutions of 1799 one pauses amazed at 
the irony of Time in his revenges. In 1798 Vir- 
ginia had declared : " In case of a deliberate, palpable 
and dangerous exercise of . . . powers not granted 



COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES 283 

[to the Federal government] , the States . . . have 
the right and are in duty bound to interpose for 
arresting the progress of the evil." In 1815 Rhode 
Island, through its governor (William Jones), 
indorsed the report of the Hartford Convention, 
a report which said : " In cases of deliberate, dan- 
gerous, and palpable infractions of the Constitution, 
affecting the sovereignty of a State and the liber- 
ties of the people, it is not only the right but the 
duty of such State to interpose its authority. . . . 
When emergencies occur which are either beyond 
the reach of the judicial tribunals, or too pressing 
to admit of the delay incident to their forms, 
States which have no common umpire must be 
their own judges and execute their own decisions." 
With the mention of some interesting names the 
present chapter may be dismissed. Between 1787 
and 1824 Rhode Island was visited by the travelers 
J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, J. P. Brissot de 
Warville, and the Due de La Rochef oucauld-Lian- 
court; and by the statesmen Talleyrand and the 
Marquis de Lafayette. Talleyrand came in 1794, 
and he alighted at Newport. He tarried several 
weeks, received no letters, asked no questions, paid 
his reckoning and went his way. Why had he come ? 
Mr. George Champlin Mason, writing in 1884, con- 
jectured that Talleyrand's " Memoirs " when printed 
might solve the little mystery. The " Memoirs " at 
length have been printed. Is the mystery solved ? 
As for the Marquis de Lafayette, his coming, 



284 RHODE ISLAND 

whicli made memorable the year 1824, was to renew 
associations of the time of D'Estaing. Nor are the 
names here to be mentioned exclusively foreign. 
They include Elisha Potter and Benjamin Hazard, 
members of the General Assembly, and Tristam 
Burges, the " bald eagle " of the national House of 
Eepresentatives. Pitted in many a contest against 
John Randolph of Eoanoke, Burges proved himself 
a doughty defender of Rhode Island's bulwark, the 
protective tariff system. 

Yet of all the names of our period those which 
chiefly are of interest are John and Moses Brown. 
John established trade with the Orient. Moses 
established the spinning of cotton yarn. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE DORR REBELLION 

Suffrage and Representation — Thomas W. Dorr — Rival Conven- 
tions and Governments — Dorr the Fanatic — Luther vs. Borden 
— National Party Politics. 

Originally in the four Rhode Island towns the 
suffrage was coupled with the freehold. The ad- 
justment was agricultural, and so long as the towns 
remained agricultural it was natural. When, how- 
ever, Rhode Island life expanded, when to agri- 
culture there was added commerce, and when to 
commerce there were added manufactures, a read- 
justment was required ; one that would admit to a 
share of power the newer element in the body 
politic — the artisan class as distinguished from 
the class that was land-owning. Readjustment the 
freeholders (powerholders) for over fifty years 
refused to grant. Their close corporation based 
upon property they guarded from profanation as 
jealously as had the Puritans their close corpora- 
tion based upon religion. In Massachusetts it took 
a revocation of charter to get rid of religious ex- 
clusiveness. In Rhode Island it took a rebellion — 
a rebellion of the unifying present against the 
separatist past — the rebellion headed by Thomas 



286 RHODE ISLAND 

W. Dorr — to get rid of the exclusiveness of pro- 
prietaryism. 

Tlie movement which culminated in the Dorr 
revolt was directed principally against the restric- 
tion on the suffrage, but it also was directed against 
inequality of town representation in the General 
Assembly. Both grievances were grounded in the 
actual constitution of the State ; the suffrage griev- 
ance in the rule of freehold qualification expressed 
in the statute of 1724, and the grievance as to re- 
presentation in the apportionment provision of the 
Charter of 1663. 

Of the two grievances that in respect to repre- 
sentation was the earlier felt. Providence by the 
close of the Revolution had so gained in population 
as to be entitled to the same representation as 
Newport. As a matter of fact, it was represented 
by four assemblymen or deputies, and Newport by 
six. In 1791 a commencement orator of Brown 
University alluded to Ehode Island as possessing 
no constitution or political compact entered into by 
the people, and described the charter as an old 
musty document from Charles Stuart. The an- 
tiquity of the charter would have weighed little 
at this time had not the feature of inequality of 
representation been joined to the feature of age. 
It was in relation to State taxation that the ine- 
quality feature was most complained of. In 1796, 
therefore, Providence issued a summons for a 
convention of towns to take into consideration 



THE DORR REBELLION 287 

the question of forming a " written " State consti- 
tution. Eight northern towns responded, and in 
October the General Assembly appealed to the 
towns as a body for instructions regarding a con- 
stitutional convention ; further than this no result 
was attained. 

Providence, nevertheless, was in earnest. In 
1797, one of its citizens. Colonel George K. Bur- 
rill, delivered a Fourth of July oration. In it the 
declaration was made that " equal representation 
is involved in the very idea of free government." 
But how was such representation to be obtained 
in Khode Island? To petition the legislature for 
it would, the speaker said, be to " require the 
powerholders to surrender their power, — a re- 
quisition which it is not in human nature to 
grant." 

The only course left was to ignore the legis- 
lature and to form a constitution without its aid. 
Thomas W. Dorr had not been born when the 
Burrill oration was delivered, but what forty-four 
years afterwards he did was in full consonance 
with it. The legislature was ignored and the peo- 
ple in their primary capacity were invoked to 
act. 

Between 1797 and 1829 at least one attempt 
(1811) was made to secure through the legis- 
lature an enlarged suffrage, and at least five 
attempts were made (1799, 1817, 1821, 1822, and 
1824) to secure through a new constitution a 



288 RHODE ISLAND 

more just legislative apportionment. None of the 
attempts were crowned with success. The Gen- 
eral Assembly indefinitely postponed the mea- 
sures of 1811 and 1817, and those of 1821 and 
1822 (which, together with the measure of 1817, 
were resolutions that a constitutional convention 
be called) were defeated at the polls. The attempt 
of 1824 brought about the submission of a con- 
stitution for acceptance or rejection, but rejection 
was the fate encountered. Under the instrument re- 
jected Newport would have lost one assemblyman 
and Providence (now far larger than Newport) 
and other northern towns would have gained one. 
The scheme had been devised to please all the 
towns ; it pleased none. 

With 1829 the movement for constitutional re- 
form in Eliode Island became distinctly a move- 
ment for enlarged suffrage. Providence had risen 
in population from 11,745 souls in 1820 to 15,941 
in 1825, and of these a large fraction were me- 
chanics and cotton-mill operatives, — men who 
were not owners of land and who could not vote, 
yet who regarded exclusion from the franchise as 
more or less of an injustice. Petitions in relation 
to the suffrage were presented in the lower house 
of the General Assembly on beha-lf of the unen- 
franchised in the towns of Providence, North 
Providence, Bristol, and Warren. The petitions 
were referred to a committee of which Benjamin 
Hazard was chairman, and by that committee were 



THE DORR REBELLION 289 

somewhat contemptuously dismissed.^ At this time 
Thomas W. Dorr was twenty-four years old. He 
was the son of Sullivan Dorr, a successful Provi- 
dence manufacturer, and as such had received a 
careful education. From Phillips Exeter Academy 
he had gone to Harvard College. There he had been 
graduated in 1823. Afterwards he had studied 
law with Chancellor Kent of New York, and now 
was a respected and rising man practicing his pro- 
fession in his native town. Just how much of a 
Tiberius Gracchus, revolving in his ardent mind 
the lot of the downtrodden in Rhode Island, Dorr 
may have been prior to 1833 (the year of his election 
to the General Assembly), we do not know. That 
by nature he was a reformer, an idealist, we are led 
to surmise. Among his early legislative acts were 
a bill (which became law) in favor of poor debt- 
ors, and a protest against interference with the 
Abolitionists. His first unequivocal revelation of 
himself, however, was in an address to the people 
of Rhode Island issued in 1834. In that year a 
convention of northern towns was held at Provi- 

^ "The committee have not thought it necessary to inquire 
particularly how many of the signers are native citizens of the 
State, but they are sufficiently informed to be satisfied that a 
very great proportion are not so, and it is ill calculated to pro- 
duce a favorable opinion of their qualification . . . that persons 
who have adventured, and are every day adventuring among us 
from other States or countries, to better their condition; who 
enjoy, in common with ourselves, all the protection and benefits 
of our equal laws, and upon whose departure there is no restraint ; 
should still be restless and dissatisfied," etc. 



290 RHODE ISLAND 

dence " to promote the establishment of a state 
constitution," and Dorr was selected to voice to 
the world the convention's purpose. 

What constitutionally was the condition of 
Rhode Island in 1834 ? The suffrage was re- 
stricted to such as were owners of land, or were 
the eldest sons of owners of land, of the value of 
one hundred and thirty -four dollars : that we know. 
Representation in the General Assembly was alto- 
gether unequal: that also we know. But there 
was a further anachronism. The General Assem- 
bly persisted in arrogating to itself judicial func- 
tions — a proceeding rendered easier by the usage 
under the charter of an annual election of judi- 
cial officers. 

In point of ability Dorr's address was worthy 
of his Harvard training. It was perspicuous and 
temperate and it dealt with each of the several ele- 
ments of injustice in the Rhode Island system; 
with the narrow suffrage, the unequal apportion- 
ment, and the dependent judiciary. The author's 
conclusion — in the light of the provision of the 
Federal Constitution guaranteeing to each State 
a republican form of government — was that in 
Rhode Island the form of government was not 
republican and should be changed. But in reach- 
ing his conclusion he, as an idealist, advanced one 
radical, one revolutionary, doctrine : namely, that 
the suffrage was in no sense a political privilege 
but a native and natural right. It is important 



THE DORR REBELLION 291 

that Dorr's advocacy of this doctrine be borne 
in mind, for upon it in a short time his personal 
fortunes and those of his supporters were wrecked. 

The plea of Dorr for a constitution was produc- 
tive of no considerable effect. Time sped and there 
was reached the year 1840. By that year Provi- 
dence had increased in population until it num- 
bered 23,172 souls. Warwick, Smithfield, Cum- 
berland, North Providence, and Bristol had also 
increased heavily in population. The newcomers, 
both American and foreign, sympathized with the 
ideas of the Dorrites or Constitutionalists in favor 
of an enlarged suffrage, and through their interest 
and support agitation was renewed. In January, 
1840, an " Address to the Citizens of Rhode Is- 
land," printed in New York, was widely distributed ; 
in March " The Rhode Island Suffrage Associa- 
tion " was formed ; and in November there ap- 
peared in Providence a suffrage newspaper, the 
" New Age." 

" Our first appeal," the Suffrage Association de- 
clared, " is to heaven for the justice of our cause. 
Next to the whole people of Rhode Island . . . 
through the medium of the ballot-box. Next to 
the General Assembly of the State. These failing, 
our final resort shall be to the Congress of the 
United States . . . and if need be to the Supreme 
Judicial Power to test the force and meaning of 
that provision in the Constitution, which guaran- 
tees to every State in the Union a republican form 



292 RHODE ISLAND 

of government." Neither by Dorr nor any other 
suffragist in 1840 would it seem seriously to have 
been contemplated that, in seeking to set up a gov- 
ernment opposed to that of the charter, force might 
have to be employed, and that in a conflict between 
a government dejure and the government defacto^ 
the de facto government would have on its side 
the immense advantage of organization, regularity, 
and law, to the ultimate sanctions of imprisonment 
and death. 

In January, 1841, the General Assembly again 
was appealed to by the suffragists to call a conven- 
tion to adopt a constitution. The Assembly merely 
repeated its time-worn tactics. The suffrage ques- 
tion it passed over, and the question of apportion- 
ment it resolved to submit for consideration to a 
constitutional convention to be composed of dele- 
gates in the number of members of the General 
Assembly, and, like them, chosen by the freemen 
under the existing law. Disgusted with the As- 
sembly's disingenuousness, the suffragists called a 
mass meeting to be held at Providence on April 
17. The meeting was a success. Three thousand 
men formed themselves in civic procession to 
march to the State House. Each participant wore 
a badge stamped with the words, " I am an Amer- 
ican Citizen ; " and banners were carried displaying 
the mottoes : " Worth makes the Man, but Sand 
and Gravel make the Voter ; " " Virtue, Patriot- 
ism and Intelligence versus |134 worth of Dirt." 



THE DORR REBELLION 293 

At the State House a collation was served and 
speeches were made by ex-Congressman Dutee J. 
Pierce and Samuel Y. Atwell — men who as suf- 
fragist leaders stood next in prominence to Dorr 
himself. 

On May 5 a mass meeting was held at New- 
port, and on July 5 such a meeting for a second 
time was held at Providence. At the Providence 
meeting resolutions were passed demanding a con- 
stitutional convention and affirming : " We will 
sustain and carry into effect [the proposed] con- 
stitution by all necessary means." On July 20 
it was announced that a convention would be held 
at Providence on October 4. To this convention 
delegates were to be chosen by the votes (delivered 
on August 28) of " every American male citizen, 
of twenty-one years of age and upwards, who has 
resided in this State one year preceding the election 
of delegates." 

Promptly on the day appointed the suffragist, 
or, as it now had come to be called, the People's 
Convention, met. On November 15, after an ad- 
journment, it met again ; and by the 18th its work 
was completed. The constitution which it framed 
sought to correct the three evils emphasized by 
Dorr in his address. It extended the suffrage to 
each white male citizen of the United States, of the 
age of twenty-one years, who should have resided 
one year in the State and six months in the town or 
ward where his vote should be offered. It remedied 



294 RHODE ISLAND 

the inequitable apportionment, and it removed from 
the General Assembly the judicial power and the 
power of pardon. The instrument provided that 
the vote upon adoption should be taken on Decem- 
ber 27, 28, and 29. On these days, accordingly, 
the vote was taken, and it was large. Thirteen 
thousand nine hundred and forty -four ballots were 
cast. Each voter had been instructed to indorse 
his ballot with the statement that he was a free- 
man or a non-freeman, as the case might be, and 
the indorsements disclosed a vote of 4960 free- 
men and of 8984 non-freemen. On January 12, 
1842, the People's Convention reconvened and the 
returns were canvassed by a duly authorized com- 
mittee. Estimating the adult males of the State 
qualified to vote under the People's Constitution at 
23,142 (an estimate not gainsaid), the instrument 
had been adopted by a decisive popular majority. 
The claim was made that it also had been adopted 
by a majority of the actual freemen of the State. 
The final act of the convention was to proclaim the 
constitution in force and to send a copy of it to 
the governor to be communicated to the General 
Assembly. 

Meanwhile, what concerning the convention 
which in January, 1841, had been decided upon 
by the General Assembly itself ? It met on No- 
vember 1, remained in session two weeks, and 
adjourned until February, 1842. The truth is that 
the convention was in sore distress. It did not 



THE DORR REBELLION 295 

know what to do regarding the suffrage. When it 
reconvened it found the situation to be this : The 
General Assembly had refused to recognize the 
People's Constitution, but it had resolved that 
those whom the Freemen's Constitution might by 
its terms enfranchise should be permitted to vote 
upon the question of adoption. Grateful for the 
cue, the convention on February 19 submitted a 
constitution abolishing the freehold qualification 
in the case of citizens of Ehode Island who were 
native Americans, and rectifying in some degree 
the unequal representative apportionment. Upon 
this constitution a vote was taken on March 21, 
22, and 23, with the result that it was defeated by 
the narrow majority of 676. 

Driven step by step by the agitation and acts of 
the suffragists from an attitude of uncompromis- 
ing opposition to an extension of the suffrage, the 
General Assembly and its constitutional convention 
had at length granted substantially what the suf- 
fragists demanded. Why, then, was the Freemen's 
Constitution not adopted ? Because, under the ad- 
vice of Dorr, the suffragists voted against it. Feel- 
ing toward the anti-suffragists was bitter, and, 
moreover, the belief was still cherished that the 
People's Constitution itself could be put legally, 
and hence peaceably, into effect. 

From a legal standpoint the outlook for the 
suffragists was not reassuring. Early in March 
the State Supreme Court unofficially, but none the 



296 RHODE ISLAND 

less emphatically, let it be known that in their 
judgment the People's Constitution was wholly 
illegal, and that any attempt to proceed under 
it would be treason against the State. A little 
later (March 25) the chief justice (Job Durfee), 
instructing the grand jury at Bristol, asserted 
that the only sovereign people anywhere were the 
corporate people, that no change of government 
could anywhere legally be effected save through 
and by the act of the corporate people, and that 
if the existence of a new constitution in Ehode Is- 
land were affirmed to the Supreme Court of the 
United States, the question to be answered would 
not be who voted for it, nor how many, but what 
right anybody had to vote for it at all. Then, late 
in March, the General Assembly enacted a law 
(called because of its ruthlessness the " Algerine 
Law ") which declared all meetings for the election 
of State officers, other than in accordance with ex- 
isting statutes, illegal and void. Penalties of fine 
and imprisonment were prescribed against any and 
all persons who should assist at such meetings or 
should accept from them nominations to office. 
Finally, about the middle of April, a letter from 
President John Tyler to Governor Samuel W. 
King of Rhode Island was published, which stated 
that in case of violence it would be the duty of the 
president " to respect the requisitions of that gov- 
ernment which had been recognized as the existing 
government of the State through all time past, 



THE DORR REBELLION 297 

until he was advised in regular manner that it had 
been altered and abolished and another substituted 
in its place by legal and peaceable proceedings 
adopted and pursued by the authorities and people 
of the State." 

So far as the views of the State Supreme Court 
were concerned, Dorr had sought to neutralize the 
effect of them by circulating in reply a legal opin- 
ion signed by nine lawyers of Providence (of whom 
he was one), asserting "that the People's Con- 
stitution is a republican form of government as 
required by the Constitution of the United States, 
and that the people of this State, in forming 
and in voting for the same, proceeded without 
any defect of law, and without violation of any 
law." 

Under the People's Constitution there was held, 
on April 18, an election of State officers and of 
both branches of the General Assembly. Dorr him- 
self was chosen governor, and on May 3 he was 
inducted into office by a great concourse, civic 
and military. On the same day the legislature- 
elect convened in a foundry building and Dutee J. 
Pierce was chosen temporary speaker of the house. 
In the presence of the house and senate Dorr 
delivered his inaugural address. The legislature 
remained in session two days. It requested the 
governor to make known to the president of the 
United States, to Congress, and to the various 
State governors, the fact of the adoption of a re- 



298 RHODE ISLAND 

publican constitution in Rhode Island, and passed 
an act repealing the Algerine Law. Two things of 
obvious importance the legislature failed to do. 
One was to take possession of the State House 
with its records, and the other was to install a new 
judiciary. 

On May 4 the regular General Assembly under 
the charter met at Newport and Samuel W. King, 
who had been reelected governor, was inaugurated. 
The Assembly then dispatched an appeal for help 
to President Tyler. A letter to the president was 
dispatched also by the Dorr government ; but not 
content with a mere letter. Dorr personally set 
forth for Washington to see the president. On the 
theory of the People's governor respecting a Fed- 
eral guaranty of republicanism to the States, the 
Federal government of course could not do other- 
wise than recognize the validity of the People's 
Constitution. Still the president, and likewise 
the Senate, beset as they were by communications 
from the charter government, might be misled ; 
hence the journey of Dorr. In Washington no- 
thing was accomplished. The president adhered 
to the position assumed in his letter to Governor 
King, and the Senate laid the Dorr papers upon 
the table. On May 12 Dorr, on his way back 
from his fruitless mission, was in New York. His 
view of the suffrage as a natural right, a right so 
obvious and of such magnitude as to be guaranteed 
to every American State by the Constitution of the 



THE DORR REBELLION 299 

United States, had in practice utterly collapsed. 
The People's governor was discouraged, and so 
frankly avowed himself. He could, he said, do no 
more ; he must hope for an act of amnesty. 

Thomas W. Dorr went to Washington a pro- 
nounced reformer — a reformer dominated by an 
idea (as reformers are wont to be) — but not an 
unrecking fanatic. He returned to Providence a 
fanatic, not only unrecking but vehement. After 
May 16 there was manifest in him the rigor and 
relentlessness of those whose souls, disdainful of 
prudence, go fiercely marching on. 

From his fit of depression in New York the Peo- 
ple's governor had been roused by an unexpected 
and timely proffer of help. Tammany Hall had 
rallied to his support. Under Tammany guidance 
he had attended the Bowery Theatre. Under Tam- 
many auspices he had been given a public reception. 
By Tammany braves and henchmen he had been 
escorted to the New York pier, whence he was to 
embark for Stonington. The demonstration last 
named may be found described in the New York 
" New Era " as " a vast civic procession which num- 
bered thousands of our most worthy, industrious, 
and respectable citizens." In the New York " Amer- 
ican " the description to be found runs thus : " We 
never in our lives saw a worse looking set than the 
governor's escort — the Five Points could not have 
beaten it at election. The governor sat bareheaded, 



300 RHODE ISLAND 

looking as grave as an owl. He is a man of nerve 
and no mistake — any but such a person would 
have broken down in a fit of laughter at the ab- 
surdity of the thing." 

On the whole, something more substantial than 
the memory of a theatre party, a reception, and a 
procession was carried back by Governor Dorr 
from New York to Rhode Island. He bore with 
him a written request from the colonel of the Thir- 
teenth Regiment of New York Artillery and the 
lieutenant-colonel of the Two Hundred and Thirty- 
Sixth Regiment of New York Infantry to be 
permitted to attend him with their respective com- 
mands. In Providence three thousand people gath- 
ered to welcome him home, and from a carriage 
he delivered to them an impassioned speech. He 
declared that in New York he had been promised 
five thousand men for use against any troops that 
the government of the United States might send 
into the State, and by way of emphasizing the 
point he drew a sword and flourished it. During 
the absence of Dorr a number of participants in 
the People's government (Dutee J. Pierce among 
them) had been arrested by the charter authorities. 
A warrant had been issued for the arrest of Dorr, 
but as yet there had arisen no moment favorable 
for serving it. 

Such was the situation when, on the afternoon 
of May 17, Dorr's followers by command of their 
leader seized some pieces of artillery. On the 17th, 



THE DORR REBELLION 301 

about midniglit, these same followers — a force of 
perhaps two hundred and thirty-four men with two 
cannon — set forth under the governor to take 
possession of the town arsenal on Cranston Street. 
The structure, a stone building, was held by a 
guard which refused a summons to surrender, and 
Dorr at once unflinchingly gave orders to discharge 
the cannon. They had been tampered with and 
merely flashed twice without result. It was a foggy 
night ; there was great confusion ; alarm bells were 
ringing ; all over the city the militia and citizens 
were turning out ; nobody knew what to expect ; 
nobody knew who was friend or who was foe. Suf- 
fice it to say that when day broke Dorr (who in 
any event was possessed of no military capacity) 
stood revealed a revolutionary leader abandoned 
by all save a handful of friends. At eight o'clock 
a letter was handed to him announcing the resig- 
nation of substantially his entire government, and 
before nine o'clock the People's governor was in 
flight for Connecticut. 

The remainder of May and the greater part of 
June passed without incident. By June 25 a small 
force of suffragists had assembled at the village of 
Chepachet in the Khode Island town of Glocester, 
which borders upon the Connecticut line. The spot 
had been chosen as a safe rendezvous for such sym- 
pathizers with the fugitive leader as were willing 
to fight for him, but only a few had come. Dorr 
himself, after an inspection of the men, their 



302 RHODE ISLAND 

poor munitions, scant subsistence, and haphazard 
fortifications on Acote's Hill, disbanded them and 
sought again his Connecticut refuge. 

Martial law in Khode Island was proclaimed by 
Governor King on June 26. Arrests were freely, 
even indiscriminately, made. The prisons were 
filled. For the People's governor a reward of five 
thousand dollars was offered. Nobody came for- 
ward to claim it, and requisitions for the fugitive 
upon the governors of Connecticut and New Hamp- 
shire were not complied with. In Providence the 
occasion was not permitted to go unimproved by 
the pulpit. On May 22, the Sunday after the at- 
tack on the arsenal. Dr. Francis Wayland, presi- 
dent of Brown University, preached an impressive 
sermon ; and on July 21 the Pev. Mark Tucker 
(Congregationalist) followed Wayland's example. 
A parallel has been suggested between Dorr 
with his youth, good birth, unusual education, and 
superior social position, and Tiberius Gracchus. 
No such parallel was sanctioned by the Kev. Mark 
Tucker. In his eyes young Dorr was a young Cati- 
line, talented and mad; or, to make use of the 
clergyman's own illustration, "a William Lloyd 
Garrison propagating errors of the worst charac- 
ter, assailing all government, the Holy Sabbath, 
and the Christian Ministry." 

For more than a year Dorr kept aloof from 
Ehode Island. At length, on October 31, 1843, 
he came to Providence. He was immediately ar- 



THE DORR REBELLION 303 

rested under an indictment for high treason, and 
on April 26, 1844, was brought to trial before the 
State Supreme Court with Chief Justice Durfee 
presiding. The trial was held at Newport — a place 
other than that where the crime was alleged to 
have been committed — before a jury who to a man 
were, as has well been said, " Algerines and Whigs." 
Samuel Y. Atwell was the principal attorney for 
the prisoner, but at the time of the trial he was ill, 
and Dorr, although assisted by other counsel, con- 
ducted in the main his own case. His chief reli- 
ance was upon the contention that treason could not 
be committed against an individual State of the 
Union. The point in 1844 was more novel than it 
is to-day. It had not been illustrated by the acts 
of John Brown in Virginia. The ruling of the 
Rhode Island court, nevertheless, was that treason 
against a State was an offense altogether possible, 
and, under instructions which left nothing to the 
discretion of the jury. Dorr was convicted. Sum- 
ming up — with allusion to the capital failure of 
the suffragist legislature to seize the opportunity 
open to it in May, 1842 — his own unfortunate 
career, the prisoner recited the familiar lines : — 

" There is a tide in the affairs of men, 
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 
Omitted, all the voyage of their life 
Is bound in shallows and in miseries." 

Governor Dorr was sentenced by the court to 



304 RHODE ISLAND 

imprisonment for tlie term of his natural life, at 
hard labor, and in separate confinement. A reac- 
tion of sentiment soon set in, and in January, 1845, 
he was offered his freedom on condition of sub- 
scribing to an oath of allegiance to the state of 
Ehode Island. This offer he proudly declined to 
accept. In June, 1845, he was unconditionally 
liberated by act of the General Assembly, and in 
May, 1851, his civil and political rights were re- 
stored to him. On December 27, 1854, he died at 
the age of forty-nine years. 

To the cause of enlarged suffrage, and hence to 
the cause of human freedom. Dorr made sacrifice 
of professional and political advancement, of fam- 
ily and social sympathy, and ultimately of life 
itself. The conclusion is hard to escape that much 
of this sacrifice was unnecessary. Success he 
achieved twice, — once when unable to realize that 
he had done so. The Freemen's Constitution was 
his work and his triumph. Wrung piecemeal from 
a reluctant legislature and equally reluctant con- 
vention, it was granted at all because of the agita- 
tion which he had instigated. In November, 1842, 
during his absence from the State, practically the 
same constitution (the one to-day in force) was 
resubmitted to the people and adopted. Kesubmis- 
sion should not have been required. Had Dorr not 
been primarily an idealist and doctrinaire, and 
secondarily a lawyer and statesman, it would not 
have been required. The reformer in him was his 



THE DORR REBELLION 305 

paradox, his irony. It led him to victory, but so 
blinded him in the moment of it as to rob his 
career of symmetry and spoil it by anti-climax. 

Divers are the queries to which the Dorr Rebel- 
lion gives rise. What, for example, was its rela- 
tion to Federal law? What was its relation to 
national party politics ? 

The first query was propounded in the judicial 
action, Luther vs. Borden^ a cause which grew 
out of the assertion and exercise of martial law by 
Governor King. Martin Luther, a shoemaker of 
the town of Warren, had acted as moderator of a 
town meeting held under the People's Constitution. 
For this crime (by the Algerine Law it was a 
crime) the charter government sought to arrest 
him. The government failed, owing to the fact 
that Luther had fled to Fall River, Massachusetts, 
but in searching for him a squad of militia broke 
open his house and maltreated his family. As a 
citizen of Massachusetts (which he now claimed 
to be) Luther, in November, 1842, brought suit 
in the Federal court against the trespassers, and 
in January, 1848, the case was heard on appeal 
before the United States Supreme Court. Whether, 
as so pertinaciously maintained by Dorr, political 
power under the Constitution of the United States 
be vested in the people as a congeries of adult 
males, or whether it be vested in such of the people 
only as hold it by preexisting law, is a point which 



306 RHODE ISLAND 

in this case was ably dealt with by Daniel Webster, 
who, with John Whipple, was counsel for the ap- 
pellees. 

"Is it not obvious enough,'* asked Webster, 
*' that men cannot get together and count them- 
selves, and say they are so many hundreds and so 
many thousands, and judge of their own qualifica- 
tions, and call themselves the people and set up a 
government ? Why, another set of men forty miles 
off, on the same day, with the same propriety, with 
as good qualifications, and in as large numbers, 
may meet and set up another government; one 
may meet at Newport and another at Chepachet, 
and both may call themselves the people. What is 
this but anarchy ? What liberty is there here but 
a tumultuary, tempestuous, violent, stormy liberty 
— - a sort of South American liberty, without power 
except in spasms — a liberty supported by arms 
to-day, crushed by arms to-morrow. Is that our 
liberty ? " 

As for the Dorr Rebellion and national party 
politics, there is a sense in which at first there was 
no connection between them. The suffragists were 
composed of Whigs and Democrats alike. Outside 
of Ehode Island the movement was given a politi- 
cal bearing through the action of Tammany Hall ; 
action which enlisted for Dorr the lively sympathy 
of Democrats such as William Cullen Bryant and 
Samuel J. Tilden. Within the State, Dorrites and 
Democrats, Algerines and Whigs, became respec- 



THE DORR REBELLION 307 

tively identified after the adoption of the Consti- 
tution of 1842. It was by Whigs (chiefly) that 
Dorr was brought to trial and prison ; and it was 
by Democrats (after a hotly contested guberna- 
torial campaign) that the People's governor was 
liberated. Moreover, it was by the Ehode Island 
Democracy that, in 1844, the national House of 
Representatives (then Democratic) was led to 
make an investigation of the " rebellion " in an 
attempt to discredit the course of President Tyler. 
But in a deeper sense the suffrage agitation in 
Rhode Island owed its inception to national party 
politics. At this period the Whigs — Daniel 
Webster, Joseph Story, Chancellor Kent — stood 
for property as the basis of the suffrage and of the 
State. The Democrats, on the other hand, — the 
followers of Andrew Jackson, the man of the fron- 
tier, — stood for manhood as the basis. A struggle 
between these ideas took place in most of the older 
commonwealths. In Rhode Island the abrogation 
of the Charter of 1663 and of the Freehold Act 
of 1724 was a triumph fundamentally of the Jack- 
sonian Democracy. The triumph here, though, was 
marked by a feature peculiarly its own. In 1854 
the General Assembly (still omnipotent) passed 
an act reversing and annulling the judgment of 
the Supreme Court rendered against Thomas W. 
Dorr. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 

From Charter to Constitution — Survivals — Manufactures and 
Slavery — A Fighting Commonwealth — The Franchise — Cor- 
rupt Politics — Keform — Providence and Newport. 

The transfer of government in Rhode Island from 
officers elected under the Charter of 1663 to of- 
ficers elected under the Constitution of 1842 was 
a work of extreme simplicity. On May 1, 1843, 
the last charter Assembly convened at the State 
House in Newport, On the following day the first 
constitutional Assembly convened in the same 
place, effected an organization, and adjourned. 
Straightway the charter Assembly reconvened, re- 
ceived a report of the organization of the constitu- 
tional Assembly, and adjourned sine die. 

On May 3 installation of government under 
the constitution was made the occasion of a cele- 
bration by the citizens of Newport. A procession, 
composed of the incoming and outgoing State 
officers and assemblymen, the president and mem- 
bers of the State Historical Society, the presi- 
dent and officers of Brown University, and other 
dignitaries, formed in front of the State House and 
marched to the North Baptist Church. Here Cap- 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 309 

tain David M. Coggeshall of Newport (a descend- 
ant of John Coggeshall, the first president of Provi- 
dence Plantations) brought forth the identical box 
in which the Charter of 1663 had been conveyed 
across the Atlantic by " Captyne George Baxter," 
and for the last time the venerated instrument was 
" held up on hygh and presented to the perfect 
view of the people." The principal feature of the 
exercises at the church was an oration by William 
G. Goddard. The orator — something of a reaction- 
ary — extolled the days of charter rule. " Then," 
proudly declared he, " the men who governed the 
State owned the State." " Can we pass, my fellow 
citizens," he asked, "without emotions allied to 
filial sorrow, from under the beneficent dominion 
of the old charter — the oldest constitutional 
charter in the world ? — the charter under which 
" Hopkins and Ellery affixed their signatures to 
the immortal Declaration of American Independ- 
ence ; " under which " the Rhode Island line 
stood foremost in fighting the battles of liberty ; " 
under which " this State joined the Confederacy 
established by the glorious old thirteen ; " under 
which " Rhode Island by the adoption of the 
American Constitution added the last link to that 
chain of more perfect union which binds these 
States together?" 

In getting rid (even by help of a Dorr) of a frame 
of polity sanctioned by observance during one hun- 



310 EHODE ISLAND 

dred and eighty years, it was well-nigh inevitable 
that some of the separatism of the age of Roger 
Williams (when the charter originated) should be 
carried into the era of the new regime — the era 
of unification and manufactures. In part what 
was carried was separatism modified ; in part it 
was separatism intensified. In the continued itin- 
erancy of the General Assembly, in the yet narrow 
suffrage, in the yet unequal representation, and in 
the yet anomalous position of the judiciary, there 
was separatism ; but it was separatism of an ame- 
liorated kind. Not for many years had the Assem- 
bly been wont to meet at Portsmouth and War- 
wick, but down to 1843 it had met regularly at 
some point in each of the five counties of Newport, 
Providence, Washington, Bristol, and Kent. Now 
(1854) its meeting places were restricted to New- 
port and Providence. Hitherto the suffrage had 
been perquisite to the ownership of a freehold or 
to the relationship of first born son to one distin- 
guished by such ownership. Now it was open to 
adult males who were native Americans, with the 
saving limitation that only the possessors of one 
hundred and thirty-four dollars' worth of land 
might vote on questions of taxation. Hitherto 
representation in the lower house had been the ar- 
bitrary device, — six from Newport ; four from 
Providence, Portsmouth, and Warwick; and two 
from each of the other towns. Now representation 
was based on population ; but membership of the 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 311 

house might never exceed a total of seventy-two, 
and to no single town was there to be accorded 
membership in excess of one sixth of the total. 
The judiciary hitherto had been slavishly depend- 
ent upon the legislature. Now the members at 
least held office during good behavior and at a 
fixed minimum remuneration. 

"Where, under the new regime, an intensification 
of separatism was to be remarked was in the form 
of the senate and in the rule for amending the con- 
stitution. Under the charter, the upper house had 
been composed of ten members chosen by general 
ticket — ten members at large. Under the constitu- 
tion, senators — after the precedent set in the case 
of the Federal system — were alloted one to each 
political unit [town].^ Under the charter (subse- 
quent to the Revolution) amendment had been ob- 
tainable by vote of a simple majority of the quali- 
fied people. Under the constitution (in view of 

^ The organization of the Rhode Island senate has found its 
strongest justification in the argument that in Rhode Island (a 
diminutiye State) it is essential to keep political power in the 
hands of the rural districts as an ofEset to the economic power of 
the growing municipality of Providence (W. P. Sheffield, The 
Mode of Altering the Constitution of Bhode Island, pp. 40-41). 
One thing, however, this argument overlooks, and that is that in 
human affairs power of whatever kind should be conceded a due 
share of political responsibility. The principle, it is true, is not 
recognized in the organization of the senate of the United States, 
but the question arises whether a senate for a continental area is 
a fit archetype for one for an area strictly limited and local. It is 
not without suggestiveness that even a continental area has its 
corrupt burroughs — its Nevadas and Dela wares. 



312 RHODE ISLAND 

the results wrought by simple majorities through 
Thomas W. Dorr) amendment was only to be ob- 
tained by vote of the qualified people in a majority 
of three fifths. 

Survivals — the survivals recounted above — con- 
stitute the most significant fact in the later history 
of Ehode Island. It is in the light of them that the 
politics of the State, both legitimate and debased, 
are to be understood. One after another they have 
yielded to the power of the uncongenial age into 
which they have been brought ; but they have 
yielded slowly and in no case without a struggle. 
The first to yield was legislative surveillance of the 
judiciary. 

Athwart the face of the judgment recorded 
against Thomas W. Dorr the General Assembly 
in 1854 ordered to be written, " Reversed and an- 
nulled." The succeeding Assembly asked of the 
Supreme Court its opinion of the constitutionality 
of this act, and received in reply, through Chief 
Justice Richard W. Greene, the statement that the 
particular act was unconstitutional, but that the 
long-continued exercise by the Assembly of judi- 
cial functions derived a kind of sanction through 
acquiescence. Once again had the Rhode Island 
judiciary receded from before the legislature. It, 
however, was for the last time. In 1856 there came 
up for determination the case of Taylor vs. Place, 
a case in which an appeal to the General Assembly 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 313 

had been entertained. The chief justice now was 
Samuel Ames, a man of wide legal learning, of 
marked judicial talent, and of a personal presence 
not unlike that of Salmon P. Chase. In the opinion 
which he proceeded to render he set forth fully the 
nature of judicial power, pointed out that the Con- 
stitution of 1842 vested such power in "one" 
Supreme Court with appropriate inferior courts, 
and voiced the irresistible conclusion that it was the 
whole and not a part of judicial power which thus 
had been conferred. It remained for the legisla- 
ture to confess the correctness of Ames's position. 
The confession was not made at once. Not until 
1860, in the case of Hazard vs. Ives, did the legis- 
lature after an elaborate debate tacitly and, as it 
were, sullenly lay down a power which it had exer- 
cised from the earliest days, and in defense of 
which it had ventured to antagonize both the Earl 
of Bellomont and Queen Anne. 

Two other matters of importance claimed the at- 
tention of Rhode Islanders at this period : manu- 
factures and the question of African slavery. By 
1840 (owing to a tariff, to steam, and to the power 
loom) the cotton manufacture had become thor- 
oughly established. After that year cotton was con- 
fronted by a rival industry in woolens — a manufac- 
ture identified in origin with the energetic Hazards 
of Peacedale, and with the ingenious and versatile 
Zachariah Allen. Implements and machinery, now, 



314 RHODE ISLAND 

too, were notable local industries. In the time o£ 
tiie Revolution, Pawtucket, Providence, and other 
towns had been centres for the production of can- 
non and small arms. By 1794 Elijah Ormsbee 
and David Wilkinson, the latter a brother of the 
wife of Samuel Slater (she of the laughing eyes), 
had invented a steamboat which would run, and by 
1849 George H. Corliss of Providence had invented 
the Corliss engine. The cotton and woolen indus- 
tries, the manufacture of tools and implements, and 
the fabrication of jewelry (an industry which from 
1810 to 1857 had steadily augmented in importance) 
made Rhode Island, and especially Providence with 
its 50,000 souls, a point of exceeding interest by 
1860. 

Toward the question of slavery in the South, the 
attitude of Rhode Island was neither more nor less 
advanced than that of New England in general. 
After 1820, when the slave trade was declared 
piracy, Newport and Bristol by degrees declined its 
fascinations, and the sentiment of the State — dic- 
tated by the industrialism of Providence — became 
a sentiment increasingly for freedom. The Mexican 
War was not liked, but the temptation to rejoice 
over the victories of General Zachary Taylor at 
Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma proved too great 
to be resisted. Atonement was sought to be made 
by legislative resolutions condemnatory of the war 
and of President Polk for inaugurating it. The 
electoral vote of the State, which in 1852 had been 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 315 

cast for Franklin Pierce, was given in 1856 to 
John C. Fremont. In 1854 State officers were for- 
bidden to lend aid in the rendition of fugitive slaves, 
and in 1859 the people were profoundly stirred by 
the raid of John Brown. 

Not long after the raid in question, Abraham 
Lincoln (February 28, 1860) delivered a political 
speech in Providence ; and not long after the Lin- 
coln speech Stephen A. Douglas (August 2, 1860) 
was given an ovation and a " clam bake " at Rocky 
Point. Lincoln's thesis was the memorable one, 
" This government cannot permanently endure half 
slave and half free." " He abounds in good humor 
and pleasant satire," was the comment of the Prov- 
idence "Journal," "and often gives a witty thrust 
that cuts like a Damascus blade." At the Douglas 
ovation, the little giant took occasion to observe 
that one of his ancestors on the maternal side [an 
Arnold] had been an associate of Roger Williams, 
and that the latter was really the first American 
" squatter sovereign." 

In spite of its Quakers, Rhode Island may ac- 
curately be described as a fighting commonwealth. 
It preferred at first to fight upon the sea, but as 
far back as the Canadian and Cuban expeditions 
of the early eighteenth century it fought with con- 
spicuous bravery on land. In the war of the Revo- 
lution the doughtiness of the Rhode Island line at 
Monmouth, Long Island, Red Bank, Princeton, 



316 RHODE ISLAND 

and Trenton, under leaders such as Christoplier 
Lippitt, Israel Angell, and Christoplier C. Greene, 
was proverbial, and the war for the Union showed 
that in martial spirit there had been no decline. 
William Sprague was elected governor in 1860, 
and before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln 
he offered to President Buchanan the use of the 
Rhode Island militia for the defense of the na- 
tional capital and for the maintenance of the Con- 
stitution and laws. After Lincoln's inauguration 
and the outbreak of actual war, the military efforts 
of the State were unceasing until the restoration 
of peace in 1865. During this interval there were 
sent into the field 23,457 men, — a force comprising 
eight regiments of infantry,^ three of cavalry, three 
of heavy artillery, and one regiment of light artil- 
lery. The force was in excess of the quota of the 
State ; it was greater in proportion to population 
than that sent into the field by any other State 
save perhaps one, and its cost was $6,500,772. No 
part of it was raised by conscription. To conscrip- 
tion the individualism of the people was unalter- 
ably opposed. 

1 As in the Revolution, so in the war for the Union Rhode Is- 
land raised a regiment of colored troops. An attempt to form 
such a regiment was made in 1861, but only a few enlistments 
were secured. In 1863 a second attempt was made which resulted 
in the formation of the Fourteenth Rhode Island, a regiment of 
heavy artillery. The regiment cost nearly a million of dollars 
in bounties, showed little physical endurance, and was made the 
object of systematic frauds. 



THE CIYIL WAR AND AFTER 317 

Unlike tlie war of the Ke volution, the Civil 
War was fought at points wholly beyond the juris- 
diction of the Narragansett Bay commonwealth. 
None of the operations, therefore, call for detailed 
consideration. Rhode Island troops were with 
Grant before Yicksburg, and helped contest the 
bloody actions of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettys- 
burg, and those of the Wilderness Campaign. The 
most prominent officer whom the State gave to the 
conflict was General Ambrose E. Burnside. He 
fought as a colonel at Bull Run ; led in 1862 the 
" Burnside Expedition " against North Carolina ; 
commanded, the same year, the Ninth Army Corps, 
and the Army of the Potomac before Fredericks- 
burg ; and in 1863, in Ohio, promulgated the 
orders which resulted in the arrest of Clement L. 
Yallandigham. His subsequent service was with 
the Ninth Corps under Generals Meade and Grant. 
Burnside was a native of Indiana, but his wife 
was from Providence, and to Rhode Island, his 
adopted State, he devoted his life and talents as 
warrior, governor, and United States senator. 
Rhode Island, it has been said, preferred origi- 
nally to fight upon the sea. It so preferred until 
after the War of 1812. With the decline, first, of 
privateering, then of the slave trade, and finally 
of legitimate commerce itself, there supervened 
(along with the rise of manufactures) a compara- 
tive indifference to the sea. Owing to this indif- 
ference it perchance was that the commonwealth 



318 RHODE ISLAND 

which in the Old French War had kept a large 
quota in the royal navy, and fifteen hundred men 
on board of privateers, contributed to the navy in 
the war for the Union 480 men. 

Distrust of delegated power had made it hard 
for Ehode Island to ratify the Federal Constitu- 
tion. A like distrust made it hard for the State to 
put aside the Charter of King Charles II in favor 
of the Constitution of 1842, and in the case of 
the Constitution of 1842 made it hard to secure 
amendments. The amendment chiefly desired was 
one eliminating the separatist survival which with- 
held from naturalized citizens, not possessed of a 
freehold, the privilege of voting. Already the sur- 
vival which kept the judiciary under surveillance 
had been gotten rid of ; but it had not been gotten 
rid of by amendment to the constitution. In fact, 
down to the time of the Civil War, the only amend- 
ments adopted had been three : one taking the 
registration of voters out of the hands of the towns ; 
one investing the governor with the pardoning 
power; and one shortening the itinerary of the 
General Assembly.^ 

After 1842 it had been the Democrats that had 

1 On April 7, 1886, there was adopted an amendment (the Fifth) 
prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors to be 
used as a beverage. By a further amendment (the Eighth) adopted 
June 20, 1889, Amendment five was annulled. For the history of 
liquor legislation in Rhode Island see J. H. Stiness, Two Centuries 
of Rhode Island Legislation against Strong Drink, 1882. 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 319 

advocated an extension of the suffrage to the for- 
eign born. After 1842 it had been the Whigs that 
had declared peril to lurk in a suffrage that was 
undiscriminating. Force, now, was imparted to 
the declaration of the Whigs by an arrival of 
Irish immigrants — people poor, untutored, and 
driven from home by famine. In 1854 the Whig 
party began to disintegrate, but the fact proved 
to be little to the advantage of the Democrats. 
On the ruins of the Whig organization there arose 
that of Know-Nothingism. The Know-Nothings 
were the "A. P. A." of their day. They were 
for America for the Americans. In Rhode Island, 
therefore, they were against Irishmen and Catho- 
lics, and by a sweeping victory at the polls in 1855 
put a temporary check to agitation in favor of 
widening the suffrage. In 1862 and 1863, how- 
ever, when the Republican party was in control of 
the legislature, serious effort was made to secure 
for soldiers and sailors who had been naturalized 
in Rhode Island the privilege of voting. The effort 
met with failure, and was not renewed with success 
until 1886. 

Yet even in Rhode Island the trend of the age 
toward manhood suffrage was not permanently to 
be stayed. In 1871, and again in 1876, the ques- 
tion of enfranchising foreign-born citizens was 
submitted to the people, and in 1878 a systematic 
and determined scheme of agitation was put in 
operation. The difficulty was not to obtain a ma- 



320 RHODE ISLAND 

jority vote in behalf of the naturalized foreigner. 
It was to obtain a majority vote of three fifths. 
The situation was not unlike what it had been in 
1840, when Dorr began his memorable crusade. 
The powerholders — the legally qualified electors 
— would not yield the boon desired. A three fifths 
majority, it was averred, never could be secured. 
What recourse was left? The same that in 1840 
was left to the Dorrites, — either a new State 
constitution or interposition by the Federal gov- 
ernment. 

At first interposition by the Federal govern- 
ment was sought. In 1878 Charles E. Gorman 
(a naturalized citizen of the United States for 
nearly forty years, and since 1848 a citizen of 
Khode Island) presented a memorial to the Sen- 
ate and House of Representatives claiming for the 
subscribers the privilege of the suffrage in Rhode 
Island under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amend- 
ments to the Constitution of the United States. 
Said the memorial : " The naturalization laws of 
the United States are, within the State of Rhode 
Island, nullified. . . . The naturalized citizens, 
who have renounced claim to the protection of the 
country of their origin, and either are, or are en- 
titled to be, citizens of the United States, are ren- 
dered, unless in exceptional cases, utterly alien to 
the institutions of their adopted country." In the 
Senate the memorial was referred to the judiciary 
committee, but the report upon it was unfavorable. 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 321 

If, observed Senator Edmunds, chairman of the 
committee, voting were one of the privileges or 
immunities of citizens of the United States as 
such, it must be a privilege or immunity of all 
citizens, male and female, infants, lunatics, and 
criminals. 

Having failed with the Federal government, 
the Gormanites devoted every energy to the task 
of securing a new constitution. And here the 
parallel between them and their predecessors the 
Dorrites is of special interest. Like the Dorr- 
ites, the Gormanites contended that the right and 
power of framing a constitution was, in every 
State, a right and power inherent in the people, 
and that it was not limited in the mode of its 
exercise by provisions of the existing constitution 
with regard to mere amendment. On one point, 
however, the Gormanites stopped short of their 
predecessors. They did not assert a right in the 
people of creating a new constitution regardless 
of the legislature. The General Assembly must 
take the initial step, must submit to the people 
the question. Shall a constitutional convention be 
called ? 

In 1880 there was formed an Equal Eights As- 
sociation, prominent in which, besides Charles E. 
Gorman, were Abraham Payne and Dr. L. F. C. 
Garvin. The question of a new constitution was 
urged upon the attention of the legislature, and 
even in Congress agitation was renewed. By some 



322 RHODE ISLAND 

members of the national House and Senate it was 
proposed in 1881 to reduce the congressional repre- 
sentation of Rhode Island under that clause of the 
Fourteenth Amendment which prescribes reduction 
for denying the right to vote to male citizens of the 
United States twenty-one years of age. But Rhode 
Island's senior senator, Henry B. Anthony, who 
had represented the State in the Federal upper 
house since 1859, was able to show in an elabo- 
rate speech that, counting against the State two 
thousand naturalized citizens disqualified as voters, 
the population was still sufficient to command the 
existing representation. 

In the General Assembly, despite the defeat of 
successive proposals to submit the question of a 
constitutional convention, sentiment was disturbed. 
Accordingly in 1883 the senate asked of the Su- 
preme Court its opinion regarding the power of the 
Assembly to submit such a question. The court 
unanimously replied that the power of the legisla- 
ture, under the Constitution of 1842, was limited 
to proposing specific amendments, each of which 
required a three fifths majority of the electors for 
its ratification. By this opinion the purposes of the 
Gormanites — the neo-Dorrites — seemed to be 
definitely and finally set at naught. The situation 
found effective summary and burlesque in a 
squib : — 

" Alas ! what a pity our fathers did n't mention, 
That we boys, if very good, could hold a convention. 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 323 

They never said we should n't but did n't say we might, 
* Ergo,' cry the sages, ' you have n't got the right.' 
'T was very bad, indeed, their permission to deny. 
But infinitely worse at once to up and die ; 
For thus they turned the lock and flung away the key, 
And Rhode Island 's ' in a box * for all eternitee." 

But it is the unexpected that happens, and in 1888, 
on a further submission to the electors of the pro- 
position to amend the State constitution by grant- 
ing the suffrage to naturalized citizens, there was 
cast an affirmative vote in a majority of three fifths. 
By the amendment of 1888 there was eliminated 
in Rhode Island the last but one (the dual cap- 
ital) of those separatist survivals from the age of 
Roger Williams which were carried in ameliorated 
form into the Constitution of 1842. It was other- 
wise with the survivals which were of the nature 
of separatism intensified — town representation in 
the senate and the three fifths majority require- 
ment for amending the constitution. The contest 
over these particular survivals (the corrupt politics 
contest) had in 1888 only just begun ; nor is it yet 
finished. 

The history of corrupt politics in Rhode Island 
is curious, interesting, and suggestive. In the 
seventeenth century as early as 1649 it was found 
necessary by Providence Plantations to pass an 
act in restraint of fraudulent voting, and in 1666 
(under the charter) a penalty of five pounds was 



324 RHODE ISLAND 

prescribed against voting on the part of persons 
who were not freemen. In the eighteenth century 
— between 1710 and 1750, the paper money era — 
fraudulent voting and bribery were both practiced 
with extreme boldness. A law of 1715 required 
each freeman to indorse his ballot with his full 
name, and made illegal voting punishable by a fine 
of five pounds, by not to exceed twenty stripes, or 
by imprisonment for one month. After 1724 voters 
were required to be owners, each, of a freehold in 
the value of one hundred pounds, or to be the eld- 
est sons of such owners ,* but admission to freeman- 
ship was through the towns, and a landed neighbor 
was apt (for a consideration) to be willing to 
accommodate an unlanded one with the loan of 
a freehold until after election. In 1730, therefore, 
an act against fraudulent representations became 
necessary, one (in 1736 and 1738) supplemented 
by acts which prescribed for illegal voting the 
penalty of fine and suspension of electoral privi- 
leges for three years. Because of the depreciation 
of the currency, these various enactments were in 
1742 followed by a law raising the nominal free- 
hold qualification to two hundred pounds ; and by a 
law in 1746 raising it to four hundred pounds and 
decreeing that the election of a candidate should 
be invalidated by a single vote that was fraudulent. 
It was not until 1762 — twelve years after the 
interposition of Parliament — that it was deemed 
practicable to restore the original freehold qualifi- 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 325 

cation by lowering the nominal one to forty pounds. 
Nor even then did there come a cessation of fraud 
in elections. Throughout the period of the Hopkins- 
Ward controversy, which did not end until 1768, 
votes (especially in Narragansett) were bought 
quite systematically; and in 1790 ratification of 
the Federal Constitution is said to have been se- 
cured through purchased votes — those of dele- 
gates from " back towns." ^ 

In the nineteenth century, after the town of 
Providence had attained a population of 23,000, it 
there became a practice on the part of dishonest 
freeholders to divide up tracts into house lots, and 
by conveying the lots for a limited time to accom- 
plices — transactions evidenced by the notes-of- 
hand of the grantees — to multiply their electoral 
power many fold. With the rise to colossal wealth 
of divers individuals, just before the Civil War, 
the practice of influencing votes directly by money 
is again brought to notice. Since the war, in con- 
nection with the growth of the Republican political 
machine, the practice has become ingrained and 
widespread — a scandal of a magnitude that is 
portentous. 

What, however, in the history of political de- 
generacy in Rhode Island is most noteworthy is 
the intimate connection maintained between that 
degeneracy and the rural districts. When, in the 

^ In this connection Rider's Book Notes, vol. xiii, p. 182, should 
he consulted. 



326 RHODE ISLAND 

eighteenth century, Ehode Island began to grow 
distinctly commercial and cooperative, the agricul- 
turalists began as much as possible to withdraw 
themselves ; to erect between themselves and the 
urban centres barriers. These barriers were town 
lines. Between 1700 and 1800 twenty-one towns 
were created, many of them avowedly for the rea- 
son that (as stated in 1765 in the petition for the 
creation of North Providence) "the petitioners 
are near all farmers whose interest and business 
differ from the merchants." Thus barricaded, 
thus withdrawn and secluded, the country towns 
(not only in the eighteenth century but also in the 
nineteenth) became the stronghold of corruption. 

The specific spots in rural Khode Island where 
political corruption most prevails are the towns of 
BurriUville, Coventry, East Greenwich, Exeter, 
Foster, Glocester, Narragansett,^ New Shoreham 
(Block Island), North Kingstown, North Provi- 
dence, North Smithfield, Scituate, Smithfield, and 
West Greenwich. Of these towns six — BurriUville, 
Glocester, Foster, Coventry, West Greenwich, 
and Exeter — are on the Connecticut border, and 
are called significantly "heathen." Seven towns — 
Exeter, Foster, Glocester, North Smithfield, Scit- 
uate, Smithfield, and West Greenwich — are losing 

1 Narragansett, which comprises that portion of South Kings- 
town lying east of the Pettiquamscutt River, was created an 
administrative district on March, 22, 1888. The privilege of 
representation in the General Assembly was conferred upon it on 
March 28, 1901. 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 327 

steadily in population, and are called "dying" 
towns. ^ Indeed, Exeter, Foster, and West Green- 
wich have to-day each less population than they 
had in 1790. Neither of them supports a resident 
clergyman, and the three (along with Burrillville, 
North Smithfield, and Smithfield) are handicapped 
by superstition, ignorance, and certain forms of 
immorality. 

It would be an easy explanation were one at 
liberty to ascribe the aforementioned conditions 
primarily to the insidious influence of the State 
machine, but to do this one is not at liberty. The 
separatism of the Rhode Island agriculturalist — 
due chiefly to an individualistic bent transmitted 
from the age of Roger Williams — furnished to 
the machine its opportunity. It furnished it, first, 
with a senate so organized (upon separatist prin- 
ciples) as to be controllable through the control of a 
few small electorates. It furnished it, second, with 
electorates not only small but, through seclusion, 
burdened with an ignorance and predisposition 
to vice ancient enough to have been bewailed by 
Roger Williams, Governor John Carver of Plym- 
outh, and Governor John Winthrop, Jr., of Con- 
necticut. It never is safe to indict a whole people, 
nor, for that matter, the whole of any one class. It 

1 The Rhode Island State census of 1905 (now nearly com- 
pleted) is expected to show little or no recovery on the part of the 
dying- towns. Providence (175,000 souls in 1900) should reach 
190,000 in 1905. 



328 RHODE ISLAND 

therefore, perhaps, is rash to assert that the agri- 
culturalists — the farmers — of Ehode Island are, 
as a class, corrupt in a political sense, or even cor- 
ruptible ; although the town of Coventry, which 
contains 5279 souls, and which in point of social 
morality stands well, has come to be thoroughly 
debauched politically. What reasonably may be 
asserted is, that in Rhode Island — a State cut up 
into small towns, each (regardless of population) 
possessed of a vote in the senate — there have been 
found with no great difficulty corruptible farmers 
in numbers sufficient to serve machine ends. Pri- 
marily it is to separatism — a survivalistic idea 
and habit wrought relentlessly into a system — that 
the political degradation of Rhode Island to-day is 
to be ascribed. 

Since 1888 (the year of the adoption of the suf- 
frage amendment) the task of the political re- 
former in Rhode Island has been that not of 
reforming decadent rural towns, or even of trans- 
forming them, but of destroying the system en- 
grafted upon them. Under this system 330,030 
(seventy-seven per cent) of the 428,556 inhabitants 
of the State constitute eight cities and towns, and 
are represented in the senate by eight members ; 
while 98,526 (twenty-three per cent) constitute 
thirty towns, and are represented in the senate by 
thirty members. One section of population (a sec- 
tion 175,000 strong and with 29,030 qualified 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 329 

voters — the section which constitutes the urban 
division, Providence) is accorded one senator; 
while another section (one 40,398 strong and with 
5620 qualified voters — the section which consti- 
tutes twenty rural divisions) is accorded twenty 
senators. 

Prior to the adoption of the suJBPrage amend- 
ment, the hope of the Ehode Island reformer cen- 
tred in the plan of a new constitution to be framed 
and adopted by a convention of delegates chosen 
upon a basis of population, and acting through a 
simple majority. But the opinion of the Supreme 
Court in 1883 denying the right of the General 
Assembly to submit to the people so much even as 
the question of a convention, coupled with the cir- 
cumstance that in 1888 there was actually obtained 
for an amendment so radical as that for an en- 
larged suffrage a three fifths majority, weakened 
the convention plan. In 1897, therefore, when the 
reformer again was urging his demand for consti- 
tutional betterment, he was forced to confine him- 
self to asking from the Assembly the submission 
to the people of an instrument in the form of an 
amendment to the existing constitution, and, as 
such, subject to defeat even though desired by a 
majority. 

During the year 1897 a new constitution was 
draughted, but in the draughting the senate of 
course took part, and although Dr. L. F. C. Garvin 
earnestly pleaded for a section reorganizing the 



330 RHODE ISLAND 

senate on a basis of thirty-six members, to be 
chosen from three senatorial districts on the prin- 
ciple of proportional representation, the old provi- 
sion, " one senator from each town or city," was 
left undisturbed. The proposed constitution never- 
theless was an advance upon the Constitution of 
1842. It vested the governor with a qualified 
power of veto ; it increased the membership of the 
house of representatives from seventy-two to one 
hundred, one fourth of which might be held by one 
town (Providence) ; it provided for the adoption 
of amendments by a majority vote of the electors ; 
and it provided for the submission to the people 
every twentieth year, beginning with 1910, of the 
question, " Shall there be a convention to revise 
the constitution ? " But when in 1898, and again in 
1899, the instrument was tendered to the electors, 
it was rejected ; the rejection of 1899 being not only 
by a majority but by a majority that was emphatic. 
Thus far there has been little to show that 
Rhode Island (including Block Island) has begun 
to abandon venal politics and to dispense with 
venal politicians, yet something has been accom- 
plished. In 1902 Dr. Garvin — a Democrat — was 
elected governor in protest against the Kepublican 
State machine, and in 1903 he was reelected. 
Under the Constitution (that of 1842) and rules 
adopted by the senate, a Democratic governor was 
powerless. He could veto no bill ; he could secure 
the confirmation of no appointee. One thing, how- 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 331 

ever, he could do : make in his official capacity a 
revelation to the State and nation of the condi- 
tions politically which obtained about him. Ac- 
cordingly, in March, 1903, Governor Garvin sent 
to the General Assembly a special message on 
bribery at elections. The document was treated 
with scant respect by senators and representatives, 
but it reached the ear of the nation and also to 
some extent the ear of Rhode Island. Said the 
Providence " Journal " on the day after the message 
was submitted : " The blame for the present order 
of things . . . belongs with the educated manu- 
facturers and business men of the State who are 
too busy making money to pay attention to politi- 
cal conditions." ^ 

As has been observed, survivalistic separatism 
is the fact in Rhode Island worthiest of note since 
the Civil War. Other noteworthy facts are the 
growth of foreign immigration and the economic, 
educational, and social development of Providence 
and Newport. 

^ In 1904 there was formed the Rhode Island Citizens Union, 
an organization having for its object a convention to revise the 
existing State constitution. In March, 1905, the Union secured a 
hearing before the senate committee on special legislation, and on 
May 4 it addressed to the committee a letter proposing a consti- 
tutional convention to be chosen on the basis of a hypothetical 
membership of one hundred in the house of representatives. As 
an alternative the Union offered to support an amendment to the 
constitution providing for a constitutional convention in 1906. 
Nothing was done by the Assembly. 



332 RHODE ISLAND 

Since 1848 the Irish have been a strong invad- 
ing element, and since 1880 the Canadian French. 
Indeed, within the last two decades the influx of 
the French has been phenomenal. As a result, over 
thirty per cent of the population of the State in 
1900 (134,519 souls out of a total of 428,556) 
were foreign born. In the case of the Irish, immi- 
gration is a fact not especially significant. The 
people ally themselves readily with the native and 
other stocks, and they are not discouragingly illit- 
erate. The towns in which they congregate — 
Bristol, Newport, Cranston, East Providence, Paw- 
tucket, Providence, and South Kingstown — are 
among the thriftiest and most exemplary of all the 
towns. On the other hand, the Canadian French 
by their presence give rise to a problem. They do 
not amalgamate with other stocks ; they are highly 
illiterate ; and the rural towns in which they pre- 
ponderate among the foreigners — Warren, Co- 
ventry, Warwick, West Greenwich, Burrillville, 
Glocester, North Providence, North Smithfield, 
Scituate, Smithfield, and Exeter — are among the 
Rhode Island towns socially and politically most 
in disrepute. 

Not that the Canadian French as such are de- 
generate. In Woonsocket, where they abound, 
morals and politics are excellent. The trouble with 
them is that wherever, as in the worst rural towns, 
they are brought as mill operatives into contact 
with a decadent American stock, they contribute 



THE CIYIL WAR AND AFTER 333 

to degeneracy by failing to withstand it. By tem- 
perament (save as to language and the domestic 
relation^ they are a conformable race. They look 
to the Anglo-Saxon. Education, combined with 
an environment of wholesome politics, would be- 
yond any reasonable doubt bring them effectually 
under the great Anglo-Saxon tradition. 

Providence in 1860 was a city of 50,000 souls. 
In 1905 it is a city of 190,000 souls. Between 
these extremes of date and population much is 
comprehended. Industries have become greatly 
diversified. Woolen goods as an article of manu- 
facture have taken precedence of cotton goods. 
Silverware, rubber commodities, and malt liquors 
have been added to the list of leading industrial 
products. In 1901, moreover, there was completed 
in Providence, at a cost of $3,000,000, a new State 
Capitol building. It is a structure of white marble, 
classic in design, and commanding in location. 
Just prior to its occupation there was adopted a 
constitutional amendment dispensing with sessions 
of the General Assembly at Newport. The long 
standing separatist survival of a dual capital has 
thus been eliminated. 

In an educational respect Providence possesses 
features quite as remarkable as are its vast and 
varied manufactures. Brown University — excep- 
tional in its traditions of a Francis Wayland, an 
Albert Harkness, a J. Lewis Diman, and an E, 
Benjamin Andrews ; of a Horace Mann, a Henry 



334 RHODE ISLAND 

Wheaton, a Eichard Olney, and a John Hay — has 
grown steadily in equipment and importance. Its 
buildings now number more than a score, and its 
graduates are to be found in every State. Next to 
it in importance rank the Friends*, or Moses Brown, 
School (an institution dating from 1819), the 
State School of Design (1877), and the State 
Normal School, admirably complete since 1898. 
Then there are the seven Providence libraries : the 
Athenaeum (rich in the ownership of Malbone's 
" Hours "), the library of Brown University, the 
library of the Rhode Island Historical Society, the 
Providence Public Library, the John Carter Brown 
Library, the State Library, and the State Law Li- 
brary. Of these the Athenaeum is an outgrowth of 
the library established in 1750 by Stephen Hopkins, 
and the Brown University and John Carter Brown 
collections are memorials of the enlightened gen- 
erosity of John Carter Brown, son and grandson, 
respectively, of the two Nicholas Browns, the prin- 
cipal benefactors of Brown University. The John 
Carter Brown collection is special in character, em- 
bracing Americana antedating the year 1800. In 
1904 it was removed from the Brown residence on 
Benefit Street to a noble structure of the Greek 
order built especially for its use on the University 
campus. 

To one limitation Providence finds it difficult to 
become habituated — that of inferiority as a sea- 
port. Situated at the head of a charming and 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 335 

navigable bay, its ships between 1804 and 1806 
brought home the spoil of the Indies ; and even as 
late as the period 1822-1825 its foreign commerce 
was almost equal to what it had been at the end 
of 1806. In the conversion of Providence from a 
mart to a producing centre three stages have been 
traversed : first (1787-1825) the stage in which 
the town, by reason of a position interior from the 
coast and by reason of the absence of competing 
canals and railways, was a natural distributing 
point westward to the Hudson ; second (1829- 
1840) the stage in which, by reason of embargoes 
and tariffs and of competing canals and waterways, 
the town was forced into production as a substitute 
for commerce ; and third (1840-1900) the stage in 
which, by reason of inferior railway communica- 
tions with the great exporting regions of the West, 
it has been left behind by New York on the one 
hand, and by Boston on the other. 

As early as 1796 it was realized by John Brown 
that Providence must hasten to avail itself of 
artificial waterways as a means of commercial 
stimulus, and the Blackstone Canal northward 
into Massachusetts was projected. But the work 
was deferred, and when in 1828 it at length was 
completed, the era of railways was at hand to 
render it useless. Yet to-day Providence possesses 
a coastwise trade in coal, lumber, and building 
materials that far exceeds in value and in the ton- 
nage of the shipping employed the direct foreign 



336 RHODE ISLAND 

trade of the period 1787-1825. Presumably with 
this not unsatisfactory showing local ambition will 
need long to be content. 

Providence since the war has advanced industri- 
ally. Newport during the same period has contin- 
ued its social advance.^ But as a resort the New- 
port of the twentieth century is a place different 
far from the Newport of 1840 or 1860. The little 
harbor town, sustained by the patronage of the 
South and by that of its own sons, the little town 
dwelt upon so lovingly and oft by the pen of George 
William Curtis, has been replaced by a Newport 
sustained by patronage from a more opulent source. 

The southerners of the eighteenth and early nine- 
teenth centuries hired such Newport dwellings or 
lodgings as they could find. Between 1835 and 
1840 gentlemen from Charleston and Savannah 
began building cottages on Bellevue Avenue, Nar- 
ragansett Avenue, and the Old Beach Eoad. In 
1844 the Ocean House was erected on Bellevue 
Avenue, and thenceforth, until 1861, the social life 
of Newport was both a cottage and hotel life, the 
latter hardly less fashionable than the former. The 
Ocean House was destroyed by fire in 1845, but it 
was at once rebuilt, and in 1846 it was in the hey- 

^ For a class eompreliencling both cottag-ers and hotel patrons 
Narragansett Pier in Narrag-ansett and Watch Hill in West- 
erly have, since the Civil War, become prominent Rli ode Island 
resorts. 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 337 

day of its prominence. It possessed a wide veranda, 
was pierced by a corridor 252 feet long, and its 
chambers were spacious and high. On August 31, 
1846, the hotel was the scene of a characteristic 
function — a magnificent ball. There were present 
three hundred guests at ten dollars a ticket. Dan- 
cing continued from half-past nine in the evening 
until four o'clock in the morning. It was described 
as " a medley of quadrilles, waltzes, polkas, and 
what is more delightful still, the redowa, an entirely 
new and perfectly bewitching dance." Bewitching, 
indeed (not to say excruciating), must have been 
life at the Ocean House in 1846 to be described 
as it was by the correspondent of the Providence 
" Gazette : " " We are well catered for by the 
musical world," he wrote. " Miss Northall — the 
plump Miss Northall — the charming throstle- 
throated Miss Northall — has delighted us with 
her vocal melody, while De Bignis — the big De 
Bignis — the prominent, aquiline-nosed De Bignis 
— has almost been the death of us with his Italian 
comicalities." 

By 1852 the building of cottages at Newport 
had become an active pursuit. There now were 
twelve costly ones in existence, four owned by citi- 
zens of Boston, and eight by southerners. In the 
winter of 1853-54 more than sixty were erected. 
Among the owners were August Belmont, W. S. 
Wetmore, John Carter Brown, Alexander Van 
Eensselaer, Charlotte Cushman, Charles H. Rus- 



338 RHODE ISLAND 

sell, Peter Parker, Samuel Ward, Sara P. Cleve- 
land, and H. Hunnewell. In 1852 Bellevue Ave- 
nue was extended to Bailey's Beach, and the same 
year the sales of land by the principal agent of the 
town reached 1435,000. Between 1851 and 1879 
the sales by this agent amounted to 113,746,000. 
In 1860 the sales were 1508,000 ; in 1863 |900,- 
000 ; in 1864 11,100,000 ; in 1871 11,532,000 ; in 
1872 11,451,000 ; and in 1878 1791,000. 

In an article printed in 1879 in the Providence 
" Journal " it is stated that fifty thousand dollar 
Newport cottages were then common, that a good 
many cost over 1100,000, and a select few |200,- 
000. " Every known and unknown order of archi- 
tecture was represented. The styles of old Germany 
and of modern France, of Switzerland and Italy, 
of England and the isles of the sea, were faithfully 
reproduced." "Many of the cottages," to quote 
again from the article mentioned, " are embowered 
among trees, shrubs, and flowering plants. Borders 
are cut so as to give the idea of deep vistas, and 
hedges inclose beautiful lawns. Standing out in 
bold relief are trees like the elm, the oak, and the 
sugar maple. . . . Hidden among arbors and trel- 
lises are spacious conservatories where flowers for- 
ever bloom; and graperies where delicious fruits 
are ripened almost at will. Nectarines, apricots, 
peaches, and figs grow in the graperies. Tiny 
dwarf trees are set in pots, and when ripened fruit 
hangs on the branches, the trees are placed upon 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AFTER 339 

the dining-table that the guests may pluck the 
growing fruit themselves." 

But the pastime of luxurious dining was but one 
Newport pastime of many. There were sports — 
polo and lacrosse ; there was bathing at Bailey's 
and Easton's beaches ; there was driving up the 
island, and, on " fort days," to Fort Adams. But 
more than anything else there was driving in full 
regalia in Bellevue Avenue. For what the Pincian 
was (and is) to the Roman, or the Park to the Lon- 
doner, or the Bois to the Parisian, that was (and 
is) Bellevue Avenue to the cottager at Newport.^ 

Between the Newport of 1879 and that of 1905 

^ " Newport is all sliing-le and clapboard, with a lot of preten- 
tious wooden houses each on its little acre, or half-acre, of land, 
and subject each to the supervision of at least one neig-hbor. 
There is no such thing as privacy, and nobody seems to desire it. 
The great thing- is to drive every day up and down the Avenue, 
as it is called, which is a loose line of wooden cottages with board 
ornamentation, or to bathe from the beach or to go on Saturday 
evening to the ' Ocean House ' to dance. The air is sirocco cooled 
o£E by the sea. Yesterday we went out on a yachting party — 
Commodore Stevens's yacht — The Maria — and had a charming 
sail in the bay. . . . There were two young girls, — one-inch-one 
in the waist and half-an-inch in the arms, and rather attractive 
notwithstanding ! In the evening, at the Ocean House, we were 
greatly amused. There was a great crowd, coming from every- 
where, and among them some very pretty persons. The band 
played, and the great hall was crowded with dancers. People 
came in from the cottages — girls, old men, servants and shop- 
keepers mixed together, and yet there was nothing disagreeable 
in the manners of any of them — all were decorous and pleasant." 
— W. W. Story (after a long residence in Europe) to his daughter, 
summer of 1865. 



340 RHODE ISLAND 

the difference, though less than between the New- 
port of 1905 and that of 1860 or 1840, is yet a 
difference to be remarked. The fifty thousand dol- 
lar cottages, and even the one and two hundred 
thousand dollar ones, have been superseded by 
structures costing nearly half a million. Hotel life, 
which even after the war continued for some years 
to be fashionable, has almost altogether ceased. 
There consequently is less meeting and mingling 
than of yore of representative people from different 
parts of the Union. Society, which once was pan- 
American, is now almost exclusively a reproduction 
of New York. 

Newport, the historic town, no longer commands 
the unique position that it commanded in the days 
of the Wantons and of Berkeley, or in those of the 
Malbones and of Dr. Stiles — the days of its com- 
mercial and intellectual maturity; but it is not 
therefore void of distinction. The stone windmill 
of Governor Benedict Arnold is now more an 
object of interest than it was in the eighteenth 
century. Trinity Church and churchyard sug- 
gest loyalism under Queen Anne. The Redwood 
Library perpetuates worthily a classic literary 
tradition. The Jewish Cemetery blooms ever in 
reminder of Spain, Portugal, and the East. The 
State House enshrines the full length (replica) 
portrait of Washington by Gilbert Stuart. Anti- 
quarians are helped by the museum and collections 
of the Newport Historical Society. 



THE CIVIL WAR AND AJFTER 341 

On Coaster's Island, withal, the United States 
Torpedo Station, Naval Training School, and Naval 
War College find congenial cohabitation ; while 
in Newport Harbor there gracefully ride towering- 
masted miracles, creations of two descendants of 
John Brown of Providence, John Brown Herre- 
shoff and Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, proprietors 
of the Herreshoff yacht works at Bristol. From 
the War College there has gone forth, in the lec- 
tures by Captain Alfred T. Mahan on " sea power," 
a characteristic Rhode Island influence. In the 
triumphs of the Defender, the Columbia, and the 
Reliance there are adumbrated the triumphs of 
the Prince Charles of Lorraine, the Defiance, and 
the Yankee. 

In another way the southern section of Rhode 
Island has sustained the Rhode Island tradition. 
In South Kingstown, down nearly to the twentieth 
century, philosophical idealism (the soul of Rhode 
Islandism) was ministered to by Rowland G. Haz- 
ard, successor in spirit to Roger Williams, Samuel 
Gorton, and the individualists ; to Anne Hutchin- 
son and the Antinomians ; to Mary Dyer, George 
Fox, and the Quietists ; to Dean Berkeley and the 
Idealists ; to Samuel Hopkins, Moses Brown, " Col- 
lege Tom," and the Abolitionists ; to Stephen Hop- 
kins and the Revolutionists ; to David Howell and 
the political autonomists ; to William Ellery Chan- 
ning and the Transcendentalists ; and to Thomas 
W. Dorr and the liberationists. Born near Tower 



342 RHODE ISLAND 

Hill in 1801, Mr. Hazard early became the friend 
of Channing, and afterwards the antagonist, 
friendly and admired, of John Stuart Mill. He 
died at Peacedale on June 24, 1888. The depth 
of his individualism, as Dr. Edward Everett Hale 
has pointed out, may be gauged from his postulate 
that man of himself is " a creative first cause." 

The history of Ehode Island has been sketched 
in three parts: the part Agriculture and Sepa- 
ratism embracing the period 1636 to 1689; the 
part Commerce and Cooperation embracing the 
period 1690 to 1763 ; and the part Unification and 
Manufactures embracing the period 1764 to the 
present day. The last two parts are important as 
indicating the course of industrial development 
and as revealing separatism in its deep power of 
survival. But it is the first part that is most im- 
portant. It comprehends the time when Rhode 
Island alone among commonwealths exemplified 
the two leading ideas of Christianity and the Re- 
formation — the two leading ideas of modern life 
and progress : the idea of Soul Liberty or Free- 
dom of Conscience in religion ; and the idea of the 
Rights of Man in politics. 



APPENDIX 



APPENDIX 



TOWNS AND COUNTIES OF RHODE ISLAND, WITH 
DATE OF SETTLEMENT OR OF INCORPORATION 



TOWNS. 

Providence, 1636. 
Portsmouth, 1638. 
Newport, 1639. 
Warwick, 1643. 
Westerly, 1669, May 14. 
New Shoreham, 1672, Nov. 6. 
North Kmgstown, 1674, Oct. 28. 
East Greenwich, 1677, Oct. 31. 
Jamestown, 1678, Nov. 4. 
South Kingstown, 1723, Feb. 26. 
Glocester, 1731, Feb. 20. 
Scituate, 1731, Feb. 20. 
Smithfield, 17?.l, Feb. 20. 
Charlestown, 1738, Aug. 22. 
West Greenwich, 1741, April 6. 
Coventry, 1741, Aug. 21. 
Exeter, 1743, March 8. 
Middletown, 1743, June 16. 
Bristol, 1747, Jan. 27. 
Warren, 1747, Jan. 27. 
Little Compton, 1747, Jan. 27. 
Tiverton, 1747, Jan. 27. 
Cumberland, 1747, Jan. 27. 



TOWNS. 

Richmond, 1747, Aug. 18. 
Cranston, 1754, June 14. 
Hopkinton, 1757, March 19. 
Johnston, 1759, March 6. 
North Providence, 1765, June 13. 
Barrington, 1770, June 16. 
Foster, 1781, Aug. 24. 
Burrillville, 1806, Oct. 29. 
FaU River [now Mass.], 1856, Oct. 6. 
Pawtucket, 1862, March 1. 
East Providence, 1862, March 1. 
Woonsocket, 1867, Jan. 31. 
Lincoln, 1871, March 8. 
North Smithfield, 1871, March 8. 
Central Falls, 1895, Feb. 21. 
Narragansett, 1901, March 28. 



Providence, 1703, June 22. 
Newport, 1703, June 22. 
Washington, 1729, June 16. 
Bristol. 1747, Feb. 17. 
Kent, 1750, June 11. 



B 



CHIEF MAGISTRATES OF RHODE ISLAND, 1638-1905 

PORTSMOUTH. 

Judges. 

William Coddington, March 7, 1638, to April 30, 1639. 
William Hutchinson, April 30, 1639, to March 12, 1640. 



346 APPENDIX 

NEWPORT. 

Judge. 
William Coddington, April 28, 1639, to March 12, 1640. 

PORTSMOUTH AND NEWPORT. 

Governor. 
William Coddington, March 12, 1640, to May 19, 1647. 

PRESIDENTS UNDER THE PATENT OF 1644. 

John Coggeshall, of Newport, May, 1647, to May, 1648. 
iJeremy Clarke, of Newport, May, 1648, to May, 1649. 
John Smith of Warwick, May, 1649, to May, 1650. 
Nicholas Easton, of Newport, May, 1650, to Aug., 1651. 

In 1651 a separation occurred between the towns of Prov- 
idence and Warwick on the one side, and Portsmouth and 
Newport on the other. 

PROVIDENCE AND WARWICK. 

Presidents. 

Samuel Gorton, of Warwick, Oct., 1651, to May, 1652. 
John Smith, of Warwick, May, 1652, to May, 1653. 
Gregory Dexter, of Providence, May, 1653, to May, 1654. 

PORTSMOUTH AND NEWPORT. 

President. 
John Sanford, of Portsmouth, May, 1653, to May, 1654. 

In 1654 the union of the four towns was reestablished. 



1 William Coddington, of Newport, was elected, but the General Court 
would not engage him, for failing to clear himself of certain accusations. 



APPENDIX 347 

Presidents. 

Nicholas Easton, of Newport, May, 1654, to Sept. 12, 1654. 
Roger Williams, of Providence, Sept., 1654, to May, 1657. 
Benedict Arnold, of Newport, May, 1657, to May, 1660. 
William Brenton, of Newport, May, 1660, to May, 1662. 
Benedict Arnold, of Newport, May, 1662, to Nov. 25, 1663. 

UNDER THE CHARTER OF 1663. 

Governors. 

Benedict Arnold, of Newport, Nov., 1663, to May, 1666. 
William Brenton, of Newport, May, 1666, to May, 1669. 
Benedict Arnold, of Newport, May, 1669, to May, 1672. 
Nicholas Easton, of Newport, May, 1672, to May, 1674. 
Wm. Coddington, of Newport, May, 1674, to May, 1676. 
Walter Clarke, of Newport, May, 1676, to May, 1677. 
^Benedict Arnold, of Newport, May, 1677, to June 20, 1678. 
iWilliam Coddington, Aug. 28, 1678, to Nov. 1, 1678. 
ijohn Cranston, of Newport, Nov. 8, 1678, to March 12, 

1680. 
Peleg Sanford, of Newport, March 16, 1680, to May, 1683. 
Wm. Coddington, Jr., of Newport, May, 1683, to May, 1685. 
Henry Bull, of Newport, May, 1685, to May, 1686. 
^Walter Clarke, of Newport, May, 1686, to June 29, 1686. 
Henry Bull, of Newport, Feb. 27, to May 7, 1690. 
John Easton, of Newport, May, 1690, to May, 1695. 
iCaleb Carr, of Newport, May, 1695, to Dec. 17, 1695. 
Walter Clarke, of Newport, Jan., 1696, to March, 1698. 
^Samuel Cranston, of Newport, March, 1698, to April 26, 

1727. 
Joseph Jencks, of Providence, May, 1727, to May, 1732. 
IWilliam Wanton, of Newport, May, 1732, to Dec, 1733. 
John Wanton, of Newport, May, 1734, to July 5, 1740. 

1 Died in oflBce. 

8 The charter was suspended, by Sir Edmund Andros, till 1689. 



348 APPENDIX 

Richard Ward, of Newport, July 15, 1740, to May, 1743. 
William Greene, of Warwick, May, 1743, to May, 1745. 
Gideon Wanton, of Newport, May, 1745, to May, 1746. 
William Greene, of Warwick, May, 1746, to May, 1747. 
Gideon Wanton, of Newport, May, 1747, to May, 1748. 
William Greene, of Warwick, May, 1748, to May, 1755. 
Stephen Hopkins, of Providence, May, 1755, to May, 1757. 
iWilliam Greene, of Warwick, May, 1757, to Feb. 22, 1758. 
Stephen Hopkins, of Providence, March 14, 1758, to May, 

1762. 
Samuel Ward, of Westerly, May, 1762, to May, 1763. 
Stephen Hopkins, of Providence, May, 1763, to May, 1765. 
Samuel Ward, of Westerly, May, 1765, to May, 1767. 
Stephen Hopkins of Providence, May, 1767, to May, 1768. 
Josias Lyndon, of Newport, May, 1768, to May, 1769. 
Joseph Wanton, of Newport, 1769 to Nov. 7, 1775. Deposed. 
Nicholas Cooke, of Providence, Nov., 1775, to May, 1778. 
William Greene, of Warwick, May, 1778, to 1786. 
John Collins, of Newport, May, 1786, to 1790. 
Arthur Fenner, of Providence, May, 1790, to Oct. 15, 1805.2 
James Fenner, of Providence, May, 1807, to 1811. 
William Jones, of Providence, May, 1811, to 1817. 
^Nehemiah R. Knight, of Providence, May, 1817, to Jan. 9, 

1821. 
William C. Gibbs, of Newport, May, 1821, to 1824. 
James Fenner, of Providence, May, 1824, to 1831. 
^Lemuel H. Arnold, of Providence, 1831 to 1833. 

1 Died in office. 

2 Paul Mumford, deputy governor, died in office. Henry Smith, first sen- 
ator, officiated as governor. In 1806, no election of governor ; Isaac Wilbour, 
lieutenant-governor, officiated. 

8 Elected United States senator, Jan. 9, 1821, for unexpired term of James 
Burrill, Jr., deceased. 

* In 1832, no election of governor, lieutenant-governor, or senators. Elec- 
tions were successively ordered for May 16, July 18, Aug. 28, and Nov. 21, 
1832, resulting without choice. At the January session, 1833, the officers who 
had not been reelected in 1832 were continued in office until the next session. 



APPENDIX 349 

John Brown Francis, of Warwick, 1833 to 1838. 
iWmiam Sprague, of Warwick, 1838 to 1839. 
Samuel Ward King, of Johnston, 1840 to 1843. 

UNDER THE CONSTITUTION OF 1842. 

James Fenner, of Providence, 1843 to 1845. 

Charles Jackson, of Providence, 1845 to 1846. 

Byron Diman, of Bristol, 1846 to 1847. 

Elisha Harris, of Coventry, 1847 to 1849. 

Henry B. Anthony, of Providence, 1849 to 1851. 

aPhillip Allen, of Providence, 1851 to 1853. 

Francis M. Dimond, of Bristol, July 20, 1853, to 1854. 

William Warner Hoppin, of Providence, 1854 to 1857. 

Elisha Dyer, of Providence, 1857 to 1859. 

Thomas G. Turner, of Warren, 1859 to 1860. 

Wm. Sprague, of Providence, 1860, to March 3, 1863. Re- 
signed. 

»William C. Cozzens, of Newport, March 3, 1863, to May, 
1863. 

James Y. Smith, of Providence, 1863 to 1866. 

Ambrose E. Burnside, of Providence, 1866 to 1869. 

Seth Padelford, of Providence, 1869 to 1873. 

Henry Howard, of Coventry, 1873 to 1875. 

Henry Lippitt, of Providence, 1875 to 1877. 

Charles C. Van Zaudt, of Newport, 1877 to 1880. 

Alfred H. Littlefield, of Lincoln, 1880 to 1883. 

Augustus O. Bourn, of Bristol, 1883 to 1885. 

George Peabody Wetmore, of Newport, 1885 to 1887. 

1 In 1839, no election of governor, or lieutenant-governor ; Samuel Ward 
King was first senator and acting-governor. 

2 Resigned July 20, 1853, having been elected United States senator. May 4, 
1853. Francis M. Dimond, lieutenant-governor, officiated. 

3 Governor Sprague resigned March 3, 1863, to accept the office of United 
States senator ; and Lieutenant-Governor Arnold having been previously 
elected to the senate of the United States to fill the vacancy caused by the 
resignation of James F. Simmons, Mr. Cozzens became governor by virtue of 
his office as president of the state senate. 



350 APPENDIX 

John W. Davis, of Pawtucket, 1887 to 1888. 

Royal C. Taft, of Providence, 1888 to 1889. 

Herbert W. Ladd, of Providence, 1889 to 1890. 

John W. Davis, of Pawtucket, 1890 to 1891. 

Herbert W. Ladd, of Providence, 1891 to 1892. 

D. Russell Brown, of Providence, 1892 to 1895. 

Charles Warren Lippitt, of Providence, 1895 to 1897. 

Elisha Dyer, of Providence, 1897 to 1900. 

William Gregory, of North Kingstown, 1900 to Dec. 16, 

1901. 
Charles Dean Kimball, of Providence, Dec. 16, 1901 to 

1903. 
Lucius F. C. Garvin, of Cumberland, 1903 to 1905. 
George H. Utter, of Westerly, 1905 to — . 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



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suffrage to foreign-born citizens.) 
Rider, S. S. How Rhode Island came by two Capitals, 

Book Notes, vol, viii 
Shaler, N- S. Nature and Man in America, 1891. (The 

French-Canadians.) 
Sheffield, W. P. Random Notes on the Government of 

Rhode Island, 1897. 
Smith, H. P. The Growth of the Library. Field's R. I. at 

End of the Century, 3 vols. 1902, vol. iii, chap. vi. 
Smith, H. P. Growth of Public Education. Field's R. I. at 

End of the Century, 3 vols. 1902, vol. ii. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 385 

Smythe, E. C. French-Canadians in New England. Proc. 

Am. Antiq. Soc. N, S. vol. vii. 
Steffens, L. Rhode Island: a State for Sale. McClureh 

Mag. Feb. 1905. 
Stickney, C. Know-Nothingism in Rhode Island. Pub. R. L 

Hist Soc. vol. i. 
Stiness, E. C. The Struggle for Judicial Supremacy. Field's 

R. I. at End of the Century, 3 vols. 1902, vol. iii, chap. 

ii. (Taylor vs. Place ; Hazard vs. Ives.) 
Stiness, J. H. Civil Changes in the State, 1897 (pamphlet). 
Stiness, J. H. Two Centuries of Rhode Island Legislation 

against Strong Drink, 1882. 
Wilson, G. G. The Political Development of the Towns. 

Field's R. I. at End of the Century, 3 vols. 1902, vol. iii, 

chap. i. 
Woodbury, A. Major-General A. E. Burnside and the 

Ninth Army Corps, 1867. 
Wyman, J. C. Rhode Island at the World's Fair of 1893. 

N. Eng. Mag. N. S. vol. x. 



INDEX 



Abbott, Daniel, 162. 

Abolition of slavery, 170-175, 282. 

Albany Congress, 176. 

Alexander, Cosmo, 135. 

Algiers, pirates of, 273-275. 

" Algerine Law," the, 296, 298, 305. 

Allen, Zachariah, 313. 

Almy & Brown, the firm of, 277, 278. 

Amendments to the Constitution of 
1842, 318-323. 

Ames, Chief Justice Samuel, 313. 

Anabaptists m Rhode Island, 41, 42, 
132, 138. See Baptists. 

Anchor Bay, 7. 

Andrews, E. Benjamin, 334. 

Andros, Sir Edmiind, claims of Con- 
necticut rejected by, 50 ; serves the 
quo warranto, 55-59. 

Angell, Israel, 316. 

Angell, Thomas, 17, 

Ann & Hope, the ship, 270-272. 

Anthony, Senator Henry B., speech 
of, against extension of suffrage, 
322. 

Antinomians in Rhode Island, 28-31, 
41, 54, 132. 

Aquidneck, island of, 3, 8, 13, 22 ; be- 
comes a political entity, 32 ; incor- 
porated vdth Providence, 35 ; name 
changed, 43. See Island of Rhode 
Island. 

Arnold, Gen. Benedict, appointed to 
the command in New England, 223. 

Arnold, Governor Benedict, 6, 23, 24, 
42,45. 

Arnold, Jonathan, 247. 

Arnold, Samuel G. (quoted), 184, 185. 

Arnold, Welcome, 273. 

Arnold, William, 19, 22, 23, 45. 

Articles of Confederation, Rhode Is- 
land accedes to, 241. 

Assiento, the, 112, 113. 

Assistants, Coimcil of, 187, 188. 

Assistants, Court of, 189. 

Atherton Company, the, 47-49, 51, 86 ; 
sells East Greenwich to the Hugue- 
nots, 146 ; settles the Narragansett 
country, 148. 



Atwell, Samuel T., 293; attorney for 

Dorr, 303. 
Auchmuty, Robert, commissioner on 

the Gaspee affair, 208. 
Ayrault, Daniel, 71, 119, 147. 
Ayrault, Dr. Pierre, settles at East 

Greenwich, 146-148. 

Bahamas, cruise of Esek Hopkins to 
the, 214, 216. 

Bainbridge, Capt., 274. 

Bankes, John, 86-88, 92. 

Baptists in Rhode Island, 132, 150, 
164, 209. See Anabaptists. 

Barbary pirates, depredations of, 273- 
275. 

Barrington, Lady, attadiment of 
Roger Williams to, 14. 

Barrington, the schools in, 131. 

Barton, William, captures General 
Prescott, 224-226 ; speech of, 255. 

Bates, Frank G., monograph by, 256 ; 
reference, 193, 194. 

Baxter, Capt. George, 44. 

Bellomont, administration of the Earl 
of, 90-93 ; report of, on Rhode Is- 
land, 91, 92. 

Berkeley, Dean, in Rhode Island, 129, 
130, 132-135, 153, 172 ; sends organ 
to Trinity Church, 141. 

Blackstone Canal, the, 335. 

Blackstone River, the, 4. 

Blackstone, William, 53. 

Block, Adrian, visits Narragansett 
Bay, 6 ; names Block Island, 7 ; ac- 
count of the Indians by, 7. 

Block Island, incorporated with Rhode 
Island, 55 ; refuge for pirates, 89 ; 
British seen off, 222. See New 
Shoreham. 

Boston and Providence R. R. opened, 
282. 

Boston Neck, purchase of, 48. 

Boimdary Commission of 1665, 49. 

Bowditch, Josiah B. (quoted), 9. 

Bowen, Jabez, 162 ; serves on com- 
mittee for construction of a navy, 
219 ; Federalist leader, 255. 



388 



INDEX 



Bradish, Joseph, 88, 89. 

Brentou, WiUiam, 30, 60. * 

Brett, Mrs, Mary, 172. 

Brett, Dr. Thomas, 135. 

Briggs, Aaron, testimony of, in the 
Gaspee case, 207. 

Bristol, surrendered to Rhode Island, 
46; slave trade at, 115, 263, 264; 
schools in, 131; mentioned, 193; 
privateers of, 277 ; suffrage in, 288 ; 
population of (in 1840), 291; the 
Irish in, 332. 

British in Rhode Island, the, 221-237, 
258-260. 

Brown & Benson, the firm of, 269, 
270, 274. 

Brown & Francis, the firm of, 269, 
270. 

Brown & Ives, the firm of, 280. 

Brown, Chad, 161. 

Brown, James, 161. 

Brown, John (of Newport), 119. 

Brown, John (of Providence), 161 ; 
lays corner-stone of University HaU, 
166 ; plans destruction of the Gas- 
pee, 205-207 ; prisoner at Boston, 
211 ; serves on committee for con- 
struction of a navy, 219, 220 ; criti- 
cises the American retreat from 
Newport, 233 ; interest of, in com- 
merce, 268-270 ; death of, 272. 

Brown, Joseph, 161 ; serves on com- 
mittee for construction of a navy, 
219. 

Brown, Rev. Marmaduke, 172. 

Brown, Moses, 161-163, 166; connec- 
tion with the Olney-Palfrey love- 
affair, 166-169 ; marriage, 170 ; ef- 
forts to secure the abolition of slav- 
ery, 170, 171, 261, 282; obtains his 
brother's release, 211 ; letter of, to 
Samuel Slater, 267. 

Brown, Nathaniel (of Plymouth), 160. 

Brown, Nicholas, the elder, 161. 

Brown, Nicholas, Jr., benefactor of 
Brown University, 166, 334; serves 
on committee for construction of a 
navy, 219. 

Brown, Obadiah, letter to, 261. 

Brown, Peleg, 119. 

Brown Library, the John Carter, 334. 

Brown University, 166, 286; growth 
of, 333, 334. See Rhode Island Col- 
lege. 

Bryant, William CuUen, sjmipathy of, 
for Dorr, 306, 

Bull, Henry, 31, 59, 60. 

Burges, Tristram, 285. 

Burnside, Gen. Ambrose E., 317. 

Burnyeat, John, 55, 

Burrill, George R,, oration of, 287. 



Burrillville, corrupt politics of, 326; 

Canadian French in, 332, 
Butts Hill, British fortifications at, 

229; faUure to storm, 231, 232. 

Cabot, career of the ship, 213, 216, 217. 

Callender, Rev. John, 135. 

Canada, expeditions against, 65-67, 84, 
98. 

Canadian French in Rhode Island, 
332, 333, 

Canonchet, the Indian sachem, 52, 53. 

Canonicus, 7, 18; sells Aquidneck, 29; 
makes submission to Gorton, 46. 

Carpenter, Esther B., book written by, 
10. 

Carpenter, William, 19. 

Carr, Sir Robert, 49. 

Cartagena, attack upon (1741), 67. 

Carter, John, 246. 

Cartwright, George, 49. 

Champlin, Margaret, 240. 

Channing, John, 120. 

Channing, William, 82 ; marriage of, 
266. 

Channing, William EUery, 266. 

Charter of 1663, the, 43-45, 55 ; for- 
feited and restored, 59. 

Charterhouse School, Roger Williams 
at the, 14. 

Chastellux, Chevalier de, description 
of Newport by, 238, 239. 

Chepachet, the Dorrites at, 301. 

Church, Capt. Benjamin, 53. 

Civil War, Rhode Island troops in the, 
316, 317. 

Clap, Rev. Nathaniel, 133, 135, 

Clarke, John, 13, 30-33, 40, 42 ; helps 
to purchase Aquidneck, 29 ; nego- 
tiates the Charter of 1663, 44 ; takes 
part in boundary dispute, 49 ; death 
of, 61, 

Clarke, John Innes, serves on commit- 
tee for construction of a navy, 219. 

Clarke, Walter, governor from 1696- 
1698, 85, 91. 

Clinton, Sir Henry, commands the 
British at Newport, 223. 

Coddington, Nathaniel, 86, 87. 

Coddington, WiUiam, 13, 30, 31, 35, 60, 
61 ; helps to purchase Aquidneck, 
29 ; governor of Aquidneck and Co- 
nanicut, 38-41 , 

Coddington, Gov, William, dealings 
with pirates, 85, 

Coggeshall, David M., 309. 

Coggeshall, John, 30 ; first president 
of Providence Plantations, 38. 

Coke, Sir Edward, 13, 14, 16. 

Cole, Robert, 19. 

Collins, Henry, 119; wealth of, 120, 



INDEX 



389 



134; gives site for Redwood Library, 
135. 

Collins, John, Anti-Federalist leader, 
255. 

Colviil, Admiral, letter of, 200. 

Comer, Rev. John, 133, 135. 

Conanicut Island, 3. 

Conflans, Admiral, 100. 

Congregationalists in Rhode Island, 
132, 133, 138, 149, 150, 164. 

Connecticut, relations of, with the In- 
dians, 26 ; boundary disputes with, 
46-50; charter for, 48, 49. 

Constitution of 1842, 291-304; the 
adoption of, 308, 309; provisions of, 
310-313; amendments to, 318-323. 

Constitution, the frigate, 274. 

Convention for ratification of the Fed- 
eral Constitution, 255, 256. 

Cooke, Nicholas, 162; becomes gov- 
ernor, 214; serves on committee for 
construction of a navy, 219. 

Corliss, George H., engine invented 
by, 314. 

Corrupt politics in Rhode Island, 
323-331. 

Cotton, John, 28. 

Cotton, Rev. Josiah, 132. 

Court of Assistants, powers of, 189. 

Coventry, 24; corrupt politics of, 326, 
328; Canadian French in, 332. 

Crandall, John, 42. 

Cranfield, Edward, claims of Connec- 
ticut sustained by, 50. 

Cranston, Samuel, governor, 67, 91; 
report of, on Rhode Island (1708), 
108, 109 ; death of, 119. 

Cranston, the town of, the Irish in, 
332. 

Crawford, Gideon, 160. 

Crawford, William, 160. 

Cromwell, Oliver, 40, 41. 

Crown Point expedition, bills to meet 
the cost of, 74. 

Cumberland, 53; surrendered to 
Rhode Island, 46, 193; population 
of (in 1840), 291. 

Cutler, George, 89. 

D'Anville, Due, 99, 100. 

Dartmouth, Lord, 207, 208. 

Decatur, Stephen, made a freeman, 

183; his grandson, 275. 
Deming, Clarence (quoted), 9. 
Dennis, Capt. John, of the Defiance, 

102-105. 
Dennis, William, 105. 
D'Estaing, Admiral, arrives off Rhode 

Island, 227 ; urges action, 229 ; 

blockades British fleet, 230; meets 

Lord Howe and retires to Boston, 



231, 232; sails for the West Indies, 
237» 

De Temay, Admiral, 237. 

Devol, Gilbert, judge in the case of 
Trevett vs. Weeden, 82. 

DeWolf, Charles, 263. 

DeWolf, James, 263; in the war of 
1812, 277. 

DeWolf, John, 263. 

DeWolf, Mark Anthony, 263. 

Diman, J. Lewis, 333. 

Dorr, Henry C. (quoted), 184. 

Dorr, SuUivan, 289. 

Dorr, Thomas W., 285, 287, 289-304; 
reversal of judgment against, 312. 

Dorr Rebellion, the, 285-307. 

Douglas, Stephen A., speech of, 315. 

Doyle, John A. (quoted), 185. 

Duddingston, Lieut. WiUiam, 205, 206. 

Dudley, Joseph, made president of the 
Council for New England, 58 ; gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts, 92, 94; 
complaints against Rhode Island, 
by, 147. 

Dunlop, Lieut., commander of the 
Pigot, 235. 

Durfee, Chief Justice Job, 296 ; pre- 
sides at the trial of Dorr, 303. 

Durfee's Hill, 4. 

Dyer, Mary, 43. 

Dyer, William, 31. 

East Greenwich, 50 ; Huguenots in, 

146-148; corrupt politics in, 326. 
East India trade of Providence, 269- 

273. 
Easton, John, governor from 1690- 

1695, 85, 87. 
Easton, Nicholas, 30, 33, 60. 
Edmundson, William, 55. 
Edwards, Dr. Morgan, 165. 
Elizar, Isaac, denied naturalization, 

180-182. 
Ellery, William, 71, 119, 134, 140. 
EUery, William, Jr., delegate to the 

Continental Congress, 222, 227. 
Episcopalians in Rhode Island, 132, 

133, 138, 149, 150, 164; efforts of, to 

secure the abolition of slavery, 171, 

172; loyalism of, 209. 
Exeter, corrupt politics in, 326. 

Fauque, Father, letter of, 102, 263. 

Feke, Robert, 135, 136. 

Femme Goose Bay, 99. 

Fenner, Governor Arthur, 281, 282. 

Fenner, Governor James, 281. 

Fletcher, Governor Benjamin, of New 

York, appeals to Rhode Island, 66. 
Fones, Capt. Daniel, of the Tartar, 

98-100. 



390 



INDEX 



Fort Anne, 70. 

Fort George, 70, 71. 

Foster, corrupt politics in the town of, 

326. 
Foster, Theodore, 273. 
Foster, WiUiam E. (quoted), 161, 193. 
Fox, George, controversy of, with 

Roger WiUiams, 55. 
Franchise in Rhode Island, the, 319- 

323. 
Franklin, James, 131, 132, 135. 
Freebody, John, 71, 119. 
Freebody, Samuel, 119. 
Freemen's Constitution, the, 295, 304. 
French-Canadians in Rhode Island, 

332 333. 
French War of 1756, the, 84, 105. 
Friends' School, the, 334. 

Gardiner, Hannah, 151, 155. 

Gardner, Newport, the free negro, 
125. 

Garvin, Dr. L. F. C, efforts of, for 
the extension of suffrage, 321 ; ca- 
reer as reformer and governor, 329- 
331. 

Gaspee, destruction of the, 204-209, 
276. 

Gates, Gen., appointed to the com- 
mand in New England, 236; mea- 
sures of, for the relief of Rhode Is- 
land, 236, 237. 

Geography, 3-7. 

George Washington, the ship, 269, 274, 
275. 

Georgia, refuses to accept the 5% im- 
post, 244, 245. 

Gillam, James, 90. 

Glasgow, H. M. S., fight with, off Point 
Judith, 216, 217. 

Glocester, town of, created, 160 ; Dorr- 
ites in, 301 ; corrupt politics in, 
326 ; Canadian French in, 332. 

Glover, John, brigade of, sent to New- 
port, 228. 

Goat Island, 6. 

Goddard, William G., oration by, 309. 

Gorman, Charles E., efforts of, for ex- 
tension of the suffrage, 320-322. 

Gorton, Samuel, 13, 21-27, 30, 31, 40, 
46 ; services on the Connecticut 
boundary, 50; death of, 61. 

Grant, Sueton, 119. 

Greene, Christopher C, 316. 

Greene, John, 19, 23, 92 ; services on 
the Cormecticut boimdary, 50; 
deputy-governor, 86, 88, 89 ; Bello- 
mont's account of, 91. 

Greene, Nathaniel, made commander 
of the Rhode Island militia, 213 ; 
mentioned, 227 ) letters of, 228, 233 ; 



drives Cornwallis into Yorktown 

240. 
Greene, Governor William, 71, 98, 99. 
Greene, Governor William the 

younger, appeals to Coimecticut for 

aid, 236. 
Grenville, George, 200. 

Hamilton, Alexander, 245-247. 

Harkness, Albert, 334. 

Harris, WiUiam, 13, 18, 19, 50, 51, 61, 
86, 159. 

Harrison, Peter, architect of the Red- 
wood Library, 135, 136. 

Hay, John, 334. 

Hazard, Benjamin, chairman of com- 
mittee on suffrage, 288. 

Hazard, Jonathan J., Anti-Federalist 
leader, 255. 

Hazard, Joseph, judge in case of Tre- 
vett vs. Weeden, 82, 83. 

Hazard, Rowland G., 341, 342. 

Hazard, Thomas, 31, 120; efforts to 
secure the abolition of slavery, 282. 

Hazard vs. Ives, case of, 313. 

Herreshoff yacht works, 341. 

Het, Ren6, 100. 

Holden, Randall, 23, 46 ; services on 
the Connecticut boundary, 50. 

HoUiman, Ezekiel, 19. 

Holmes, Obadiah, 42. 

Holmes vs. Walton, the case of, 80, 81 
(note). 

Honyman, Rev. James, 133, 135, 172. 

Hope Island, 7. 

Hopkins, Esek, 161 ; commander-in- 
chief of the navy, 213, 214 ; career 
of, 216-220. 

Hopkins, John B., commander of the 
Cabot, 216, 217. 

Hopkins, Rufus, serves on committee 
on construction of a navy, 219. 

Hopkms, Rev. Samuel, 135, 137, 138 ; 
efforts to secure the abolition of 
slavery, 171-173, 282 ; letters of, 261. 

Hopkins, Stephen, early life of, 161, 
162 ; chancellor of Rhode Island 
College, 165; efforts to secure the 
abolition of slavery, 170; official 
positions held by, 175-177, 200; 
pamphlet by, 201 , 202 ; leads oppo- 
sition to the Stamp Act, 203 ; atti- 
tude in the Gaspee affair, 208 ; dele- 
gate to the Continental Congress, 
209, 212, 222; member of the Marme 
Committee, 213 ; President of the 
New England Convention, 222 ; 
Athenaeum established by, 334; 
death of, 257. 

Hopkins, Thomas, 161. 

Hopkins, William, 161. 



INDEX 



391 



Hopkins- Ward controversy, the, 177, 
178. 

Horsmanden, Daniel, commissioner on 
the Gaspee affair, 207. 

Howard, Martin, Jr., delegate to the 
Albany Congress, 176 ; answers Hop- 
kins's pamphlet, 202, 209; house pU- 
laged, 203, 210. 

Howe, Admiral Lord, engages D'Es- 
taing, 231. 

Howell, David, 243 ; advocates state 
rights, 244-249 ; course of, in Tre- 
vett vs. Weeden, 82, 83, 257. 

Howland, John, 225 ; efforts of, to se- 
cure free schools, 279. 

Hull, John, 97. 

Hunter, Dr. William, 135. 

Hutchinson, Anne, 13, 28-30; becomes 
Anabaptist, 41 ; death of, 41, 61. 

Hutchinson, William, 30 ; chief magis- 
trate of Newport, 31. 

Indians of Rhode Island, the, 7, 52. 
Irish in Rhode Island, the, 332. 

James, Thomas, 19. 

Jamestown, Address of the inhabitants 
of, to George III, 223. 

Jenckes, John, 162. 

Jenckes, Governor Joseph, report of, 
109; vetoes issue of paper money, 
70, 71, 96, 111, 188 ; removes to New- 
port, 177. 

John Carter Brown Library, 334. 

John Jay, the ship, 270, 271. 

Johnson, Augustus, house of, pillaged, 
202, 203 ; clahns of, 210. 

Johnson, Samuel, 134. 

Jones, John Paul, 214. 

Jones, Governor William, 276 ; ob- 
tains indorsement of the Hartford 
Convention, 288. 

Kay, Nathaniel, 71, 96. 

Kidd, William, 90. 

King George's War, 96-105. 

King Philip's War, 51-54. 

King, Samuel, 135, 136. 

King, Governor Samuel W., letter to, 
296 ; reelection of, 298 ; proclaims 
martial law, 302, 305. 

King's Province created, 49 ; becomes 
Kingstown, 50 ; Huguenots in, 146- 
148 ; large estates of, 149, 151 ; di- 
vision of, 188. 

Kingstown, 50; population of (in 
1708), 108. 

King William's War, 66, 85, 89, 95. 

Know-Nothings, the, 319. 

Knox, Henry, describes Esek Hop- 
kins, 218. 



Lafayette, the Marquis de, sent to 
Newport, 228, 229, 231, 232 ; influ- 
ence in aid of America, 237 ; visits 
Rhode Island in 1824, 285. 

Laurens, Col. John, 228. 

Lauzun, Due de, 238. 

Lawtou, Polly, 238. 

Leif, visit of, to Narragansett Bay, 
6. 

Lexington, the battle of, 211. 

Liberty, the revenue sloop, 204. 

Lincoln, Abraham, speech of, 315. 

Lindsay, Capt. David, of the Sander- 
son, letters of, 117. 

Lippitt, Christopher, 316. 

Little Compton, surrendered to Rhode 
Island, 46. 

Local government in Rhode Island, 
180, 186-188, 193, 194. 

Lonsdale Cotton Company, 280. 

Lopez, Aaron, 127 ; denied naturaliza- 
tion, 180-182. 

Louisburg, capture of, 67, 98-101. 
Luther vs. Borden, the case of, 305, 
306. 

MacSparran, Rev. James, 151-155, 
172. 

Madison, James, 245-247, 252. 

Mahan, Capt. Alfred T., 341. 

Malbone, Edward G., miniatures by, 
266. 

Malbone, Godfrey, 103, 119; estate of, 
121. 

Malbone, John, 119. 

Mann, Horace, 334. 

Manning, James, 163 ; president of 
Rhode Island College, 165 ; Congres- 
sional delegate, 251. 

Marchant, Henry, counsel in Trevett 
vs. Weeden, 79 ; delegate to the 
Continental Congress, 222 ; advo- 
cates use of fire-ships, 233, 234; 
Federal leader, 255. 

Masham, Sir William, of Otes, 16. 

Massachusetts Bay, connection of, 
with Roger Williams, 15-18 ; rela- 
tions of, with Rhode Island, 26-34 ; 
with the Narragansett Indians, 27, 
53; claims eastern Rhode Island, 
45, 46 ; paper money in, 68. 

Massachusetts, relations of Rhode 
Island with the state of, 252. 

Massasoit, 7, 17, 18, 52. 

Maverick, Samuel, 49. 

Mayes, Wilham, 86, 87, 92. 

Mexican War, the, 314. 

Miantonomi, 7, 18, 52 ; seUs Shawo- 
met to Gorton, 24-27 ; sells Aquid- 
neck, 29 ; his death, 27. 

Middletown, 222. 



392 



INDEX 



Miller, Nathan, speech of, 255. 

Misquamicutt purchase, the, 47 ; be- 
comes Westerly, 146 ; part played 
in settling Narragansett, 148. 

Moifat, Dr. Thomas, 135 ; house pil- 
laged, 203 ; claims for damages, 210. 

Mohegan Indians, the, 7, 26, 27. 

Montagu, Admiral John, 205. 

Mooshassuc River, township on the, 
18, 19, 21, 23. 

Moravians in NeAvport, the, 138. 

Morris, Robert, financial measures 
of, 242, 244, 245. 

Moses Brown School, the, 334. 

Mount Hope, 6 ; the refuge of King 
Philip, 53. 

Mumford, Paul, judge in the case of 
Trevett vs. Weeden, 182. 

Munday, Richard, 135, 136. 

Munday, Robert, 89. 

Namquit (Gaspee) Point, 205, 

Narragansett Bay, geography of, 3-7 ; 
characteristics of the region of, 9 ; 
Indians of, 7 ; British fleet in, 217, 
218 ; opening of the east passage of, 
233-235. 

Narragansett Country, settlement of 
the, 146-157 ; slavery in the, 155, 
156 ; fraudulent voting in the, 325. 

Narragansett Indians, 7, 18, 26 ; terri- 
tory of the, 47 ; war of the, with the 
New England colonies, 53. 

Narragansett Patent, the, 34. 

Narragansett, the town of, corrupt po- 
litics in, 326, and note. 

Nassau Bay, 7. 

Navigation Acts, 56-58 ; effects of. 
198. 

Navy, the American, 213-220. 

New England Confederation, the, 26, 
35, 42. 

New England, Convention of the 
States of, 222, 235. 

Newport, 4, 13 ; settlement of, 31 ; 
government of, 31, 32 ; patent for 
incorporation with Providence and 
Portsmouth, 34, 35 ; deputies from, 
45, 187 ; growth of, 60 ; privateers 
of, 95, 96, 101-105 ; pirates of, 84- 
90 ; commerce of, 107-110, 112-118; 
population in 1708, 108 ; slave trade 
at, 114-117, 261, 264 ; society of, 
119-123, 238-240 ; slavery in, 123- 
125 ; Jews in, 126-128, 180-184 ; Dean 
Berkeley in, 129, 130; schools in, 
131, 172 ; newspapers in, 132 ; sects 
in, 132, 133, 138; Redwood Library, 
134-136, 139 ; age of preeminence, 
129-145; political rival of Provi- 
dence, 177, 178 ; riots at, 202 ; loy- 



alists at, 209, 223, 259; British at, 
222-237, 258; retreat of the Ameri- 
can army from, 231, 232 ; the French 
at, 238-240; tonnage of (in 1810), 
264; resort for Southerners, 265; 
representation of, 288 ; the Irish in, 
332; ceases to be a capital city, 333; 
a social resort, 336-340. 

Newport Mercury, the, 132, 252. 

New Providence, descent of the Amer- 
ican navy upon, 214. 

New Shoreham, 55; corrupt politics 
in, 326. See Block Island. 

Nightingale, Joseph, serves on com- 
mittee for construction of a navy, 
219. 

Nightingale, Samuel, 162. 

Ninigret, the sachem, 48. 

Nipmuc Indians, the, 52. 

North Kingstown, purchase of, 48; as- 
sistant given to, 188 ; corrupt poli- 
tics in, 326. 

North Providence, suffrage in, 288; 
population of (in 1840), 291 ; cor- 
rupt politics in, 326; Canadian 
French in, 332. 

North Smithfield, corrupt politics in, 
326 ; Canadian French in, 332. 

Nyantic Indians, 7 ; lands sold by, 
48. 

Old Stone Mill, the, at Newport, 6, 

340. 
Oliver, Justice Peter, commissioner 

on the Gaspee affair, 207, 211. 
Olney, Polly, the love-affairs of, 166- 

170. 
Olney, Richard, 334..^ 
Olney, Stephen, heaife detachment at 

Yorktown, 240. 
Olney, Thomas, 19, 159. 
Ormsbee, Elijah, steamboat invented, 

by, 314. 
Osgood, Herbert L. (quoted), 185. 

Paine, Capt. Thomas, 84, 85; an asso- 
ciate of Kidd, 90. 

Paine, Thomas, 247. 

Paper money, issues of, 67-83. 

Partridge, Richard, colonial agent for 
Rhode Island, 110, 111; letter of, 
128; death of, 200. 

Patent of 1644, the, 33, 44, 49. 

Pawcatuck River, 4, 8, 49. 

Pawtucket, mill of Almy & Brown at, 
267 ; local industries of, 314 ; the 
Irish in, 332. 

Pawtuxet, 23-25, 50, 205. 

" Pawtuxet Purchase," the, 20. 

Pawtuxet River, 4, 8; township on 
the, 19, 20, 23-25. 



INDEX 



393 



Payne, Abraham, efforts of, for exten- 
sion of suffrage, 321. 

Pembroke College, Cambridge, Roger 
Williams at, 14. 

Penn, William, colonial agent for 
Rhode Island, 92. 

People's Constitution, the, 293-297. 

People's Convention, the, 293, 294. 

Pequod Indians, the, 7, 27 ; destruc- 
tion of, 28. 

Percy, Hugh, Earl, commands the 
British forces at Newport, 223. 

Perry, Commodore Oliver Hazard, 
276, 277. 

Peters, Rev. Hugh, 34, 39. 

Pettiquamscutt Company, the, 47, 148, 
149. 

Phips, Sir William, 65. 

Pierce, Dutee J., 293 ; speaker, 297 ; 
arrest of, 300. 

Pigot galley, capture of the, 233-235. 

Pigot, Sir Robert, commands the Brit- 
ish forces at Newport, 227. 

Piracy in Rhode Island, 87-93. 

Pokanoket Indians, the, 7, 52. 

Pollock, Myer, 127. 

Port Royal, expeditions against, 67. 

Portsmouth, 13; Gorton at, 22, 46; 
founded, 29 ; government of, 31 ; pa- 
tent for incorporation with Provi- 
dence and Newport, 34, 35 ; conven- 
tion of 1647 at, 36-38; deputies from, 
45, 187 ; growth of, 60. 

Potter, Capt. Simeon, of the Prince 
Charles, 102, 192, 262. 

Prescott, Gen. Richard, commands the 
British at Newport, 223 ; capture of, 
224-226. 

President Washington, the ship, 269. 

Privateering in Rhode Island, 66, 84- 
86, 91, 94-106. 

Providence, 4, 13 ; settlement of, 18 ; 
government of, 20 ; Gorton at, 22, 
26 ; patent for incorporation of, 34, 
35 ; deputies from, 45, 187 ; burned 
by Indians, 53; growth of, 60; pri- 
vateers of, 105, 160, 219, 220 ; popu- 
lation of (in 1708), 108 ; churches 
of, 132; commerce of, 160, 267-273; 
education in, 162 ; college removed 
to, 166; population of (in 1750), 
175 ; revolutionary measures taken 
by, 210 ; attitude of, toward the Fed- 
eral Constitution, 254, 255 ; tonnage 
of (in 1810), 264 ; manufactures in, 
278, 279, 333; representation of, 286- 
288 ; suffrage in, 289, 291-298, 301 ; 
population of (in 1840), 291 ; Dorr's 
reception at, 300, 304, 307, 310; local 
industries of, 314 ; libraries of, 334 ; 
coast-trade of, 335. 



Providence Athenaeum, the, 334. 
Providence Gazette, the, 163, 246. 
Providence Plantations, charter for 

the, 33-35; government of, 36; laws 

of, 37, 38; first president of, 38; 

fraudulent voting in, 323-325. 
Providence Society for Promoting the 

Abolition of Slavery, 282. 
Prudence Island, 3. 
Pumham, the sachem, 24, 25, 45. 

Quakers in Rhode Island, the, 42, 43, 
54, 132, 133, 138, 150, 164 ; efforts of, 
to secure the abolition of slavery, 
171, 172 ; opposition to the Revolu- 
tion, 209. 

Queen Anne's War, 69 ; privateering 
in, 95, 96. 

Randolph, Edward, sent to New Eng- 
land, 57, 58 ; visits Rhode Island, 91. 

Redwood, Abraham, 71, 119, 135. 

Redwood Library, the, 134-136, 139. 

Refuge, Bay of, 6. 

Rhode Island, geography of, 3, 4, 7 ; 
discovery of, 4-6 ; industries of, 8 ; 
paper money in, 67-83; land 
"banks" of, 68,69; privateers of, 
84-86, 94-96, 101-106, 218,277; pi- 
rates of, 87-93 ; commerce of, 107- 
110, 112-118, 264-273, 342; slavery 
in, 112-118, 123-125, 155, 156, 170- 
175, 260-264; Jews in, 126-128, 136, 
180-184 ; schools in, 131, 279 ; news- 
papers of, 132 ; churches of, 132 ; 
suffrage in, 180-187, 285, 298, 310, 
319-323; dominance of the legisla- 
ture in, 187-193 ; courts of, 189-192,- 
causes of colonial discontent, 198- 
204 ; smuggling in, 200, 202 ; the 
Revolution in, 211-237 ; proposition 
to create an American Navy comes 
from, 213 ; the theatre of war, 216- 
237 ; accepts the Articles of Con- 
federation, 241 ; refuses to accept 
the 5% impost, 245 ; indorses David 
Howell, 247 ; acknowledges taxing 
power of Congress, 249 ; attitude of, 
toward the Federal Constitution, 
249-256 ; unrepresented at Conven- 
tion of 1787, 251 ; Convention for 
ratification of the Federal Constitu- 
tion in, 255, 256 ; railroads in, 265, 
266 ; manufactures in, 267. 277-281, 
313, 314, 342 ; suffers in the war of 
1812,275, 276; taxation in, 286; Dorr 
rebellion, 285-307 ; constitution of 
1842, 308-313 ; attitude of, toward 
southern slavery, 314, 315 ; in the 
civil war, 316-318 ; Know-Nothings 
in, 319; corrupt politics in, 323-331 ; 



INDEX 



separatism in, 337, 328, 333, 342; 
political reform in, 328-331 ; towns 
of, how represented, 328, 329; for- 
eign immigration, 331-333 ; towns 
and counties, list of, 345 ; chief 
magistrates, list of, 345. 

Rhode Island, the battle of, 231. 

Rhode Island Citizens' Union, 331, 
note. 

Rhode Island College, 163-166. See 
Brown University. 

Rhode Island Gazette, the, 132. 

Rhode Island Historical Society, 
282. 

Rhode Island, the island of, 3, 5, 43, 
44. 

Rivera, Abraham Rodriguez, 127. 

Robin, Abb6, 238. 

Robinson, Hannah, 154. 

Rochambeau, Comte de, sent to Amer- 
ica, 237 ; at Newport, 238-240. 

Rogers, Col. Robert, 104. 

Rusmeyer, Albertus Ludolphus, 138. 

Russell, Joseph, serves on committee 
for construction of a navy, 219. 

Sacononoco, 24, 25, 45. 

Sadleir, Mrs. Anne, an account of 
Roger Williams by, 14. 

St. Juan Baptist, Bay of, 6. 

Sanford, Governor Peleg, report of, 
108, 109, 123. 

Sassacus, 7. 

Scituate, town of, created, 160; cor- 
rupt politics in, 326 ; Canadian 
French in, 332. 

Seekonk River, the, 4, 8. 

Seekonk, the town of, 17, 18, 35. 

Sessions, Darius, 162. 

Shaler, Professor N. S., prediction of, 
12. 

Shawomet, the Gorton settlement at, 
24-27 ; reoccupation of, 50. See 
Warwick. 

Sherwood, Joseph, colonial agent for 
Rhode Island, 200, 201. 

Shirley, Governor William, of Massa- 
chusetts, 98-101. 

Simons, Peter, 154. 

Slater, Samuel, letter of, to Moses 
Brown, 267 ; career of, 277-279. 

Slave trade, the, in Rhode Island, 
112-118, 260-264. 

Sloop Bay, 7. 

Smibert, John, 135, 136. 

Smithfield, town of, created, 160 ; 
population of (in 1840), 291 ; cor- 
rupt politics in, 326 ; Canadian 
French in, 332. 

Smith, Richard, trading post of, at 
Wickford, 47. 



Smythe, Frederick, commissioner on 
the Gaspee affair, 207. 

South Kingston (or -town), purchase 
of, 47 ; negroes m, 156 ; assistant 
given to, 188 ; the Irish in, 332 ; 
Rhode Island tradition sustained in, 
341. 

Southwick, Solomon, 135. 

Spencer, Gen. Joseph, appointed to 
the command in New England, 223 ; 
resigns, 227. 

Sprague, William, 280, 281, 316. 

Stamp Act, the, 199, 202. 

Stanton, Col. Joseph, 224. 

Star Chamber, the Court of, 13. 

Stiles, Rev. Ezra, 135, 137-141, 155 ; 
drafts charter for Rhode Island Col- 
lege, 163; efforts for the negroes, 
173 ; on the Gaspee affair, 208, 209 ; 
on the battle of Lexington, 211 ; on 
Providence privateers, 220 ; on the 
French at Newport, 238, 239; ac- 
count of British evacuation of New- 
port, 258. 

Stuart, Gilbert, 135, 136, 340. 

Stubbs, John, 55. 

Suffrage in Rhode Island, the, 180- 
187. 

Sugar Act, the, 110, 111, 198, 215; 
renewal of, 199 ; protest against, 
202 ; enforcement of, 203. 

Sullivan, Gen. John, appointed to the 
command in New England, 227 ; let- 
ter of Gen. Greene to, 228 ; ma- 
noeuvres and defeat at Newport, 
230-232. 

Superior Court of Judicature, the, 191, 
192. 

Talbot, Major Silas, captures the Pigot 
galley, 233-235 ; sent to Long Island 
Sound, 236 ; captain in the navy, 
274. 

Tammany Hall, support given Dorr 
by, 299, 306. 

Tartar, the colony sloop, 97-101, 105. 

Taylor vs. Place, case of, 312. 

Tew, Thomas, 87, 88. 

Throckmorton, John, 19. 

Thurlow, Edward, Attorney-General 
for the Crown, 207. 

Tilden, Samuel J., sympathy of, for 
Dorr, 306. 

TiUinghast, Daniel, serves on com- 
mittee for construction of a navy, 
219. 

TiUinghast, Pardon, lot granted to, 
160. 

TiUinghast, Thomas, judge in the case 
Trevett vs. Weeden, 82, 83. 

Tiverton, surrendered to Rhode Is- 



INDEX 



395 



land, 46, 193 ; retreat of the Ameri- 
can army to, 232. 

Touro, Isaac, 135-137. 

Townsend, Solomon, 120. 

Townsend, Vice-admiral, 99. 

Trevett vs. Weeden, case of, 78-83, 
193. 

Trials, the Court of, 189-191. 

Tucker, Rev. Mark, sermon by, 302. 

Turpin, William, plea for schools by, 
131. 

Tyler, President John, letter of, to 
Governor King, 296 ; appeal for aid 
to, 298. 

Uncas, 7. 

Underbill, Capt. John, 17. 

United States Naval Training School, 

341. 
United States Naval War College, 341. 
United States Torpedo Station, 341. 
Updike, Daniel, 134, 162 ; libraiy of, 

154. 
Usher, Eev. John, 172, 192. 

Vane, Sir Henry, 28, 33, 39-41. 

Varnum, James M.. counsel in case of 
Trevett vs. Weeden, 79, 80, 165; 
brigade of, 228 ; delegate to Conti- 
nental Congress. 242 ; upholds power 
of Congress, 243; advocates accept- 
ance of the Constitution, 252. 

Vernon, Samuel, 120. 

Vernon, William, 140. 

Verrazano, Jean, 3, 6 ; letter of, to 
Francis I, 5 ; account of the Indians 
by, 7. 

Vineland, 6. 

Wager, Sir Charles, 97. 

Wallace, Capt. James, 276. 

Wampanoag Indians, the, 7, 17. 

Wamsutta, the death of, 52. 

Wanton, Edward, 95. 

Wanton, Governor Gideon, 98, 120. 

Wanton, John, 95, 96, 119. 

Wanton, Governor Joseph, 120, 124 ; 
connection of, with the Gaspee, 
204-207 ; suspended from office, 212. 

Wanton, Governor William, 95, 119, 
124, 134. 

Ward, Governor Richard, 114, 117, 
177 ; defense of paper money by, 72. 

Ward, Samuel, representative of New- 
port, 177; action as governor, 203; 



delegate to the Continental Con- 
gress, 209, 212; death of, 221. 

Warren, surrendered to Rhode Island, 
46 ; slave trade at, 115 ; mentioned, 
193 ; ship-building and commerce of, 
264, 274; suffrage in, 288 ; Canadian 
French in, 332. 

Warwick, 13, 24; deputies from, 45, 
50, 187 ; burned by Indians, 53 ; 
grovrth of, 60, 291 ; Canadian 
French in, 332. See Shawomet. 

Warwick, Robert, Earl of, 34. 

Washington, Gen. George, orders of, 
respecting Rhode Island, 222, 227, 
228 ; visits Newport, 239, 240. 

Waterman, Richard, 19. 

Wayland, Dr. Francis, 333; sermon 
by, 302. 

Webster, Daniel, argument of, in 
Luther vs. Borden, 305, 306. 

Welde, Rev. Thomas, 34. 

Westcott, Stukeley, 19. 

Westerly, purchase of, 47; Seventh 
Day Baptists in, 132 ; name changed 
to, 146 ; news of British received 
from, 222. 

West Greenwich, 9; corrupt politics 
in, 326; Canadian French in, 332. 

Weston, Francis, 19. 

Weybosset Neck, 160. 

Wheaton, Henry, 334. 

Wheelwright, John, 28, 29. 

Whipple, Abraham, 120 ; takes part 
in the destruction of the Gaspee, 
206 ; reply of, to Capt. Wallace, 277. 

Wickford, 47, 152. 

Wilkinson, David, steamboat invented 
by, 314. 

Williams, Alice, 13. 

Williams, James, 13, 

Williams, Mary, wife of Roger, 16. 

Williams, Roger, 3 ; early life of, 13- 
17 ; age of, in Rhode Island, 13-61 ; 
founds Providence, 18, 19; influ- 
ence with the Indians, 27, 53 ; the 
patent of 1644 and, 33; religious 
views of, 42 ; disputes with George 
Fox, 55 ; death of, 61 ; relations 
with the Jews, 126. 

Wilson, Rev. John, 28. 

Winthrop, Governor John, 21, 24. 

Winthrop, John, Jr., 48. 

Woolman, John, 171. 

Woonasquatucket River, the, 4, 8. 

Woonsocket, Canadian French in, 332. 



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